VIENNA // Iran pressed ahead with plans that will increase its ability to make nuclear weapons as it formally informed the UN nuclear agency of its intention to enrich uranium to higher levels. Alarmed world powers questioned the rationale behind the move yesterday and warned the country it could face more UN sanctions if it made good on its intentions. Iran maintains its nuclear activities are peaceful, and an envoy insisted the move was meant only to provide fuel for Tehran's research reactor.
But world powers fearing that Iran's enrichment programme might be a cover for a weapons programme were critical. Britain said the Islamic Republic's reason for further enrichment made no sense because it is not technically advanced enough to turn the resulting material into the fuel rods needed for the reactor. France and the US said the latest Iranian move left no choice but to push harder for a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions to punish Iran's nuclear defiance.