[JURIST] The world's five major nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US – cited Iran's uranium enrichment program as a major threat to the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [PDF text; JURIST news archive] in a joint statement [PDF text] issued Thursday at the end of a two-week meeting [official website] of 106 NPT member nations. The five urged Iran, currently under UN sanctions for its nuclear program, to accept an incentive package [JURIST reports] in exchange for abandoning uranium enrichment. The statement also addressed the nuclear situation in North Korea [JURIST news archive], which opted out of the treaty in 2003 to restart disarmament negotiations. Conspicuously absent from the statement was any mention of a secret reactor [BBC report] that Syria is suspected of building, which some speculate is because of a lack of confidence in the related US intelligence.
Iran maintains that it is pursuing nuclear capabilities solely for use in producing electricity [Iranian backgrounder, PDF], a use allowed under the treaty, and has repeatedly balked [JURIST report] at the UN sanctions targeted at the country. The US and other western powers are particularly concerned that energy-related uranium enrichment processes could be easily altered to produce weapons-grade material. Reuters has more.