Washington (CNN) - A nuclear agreement announced by Iran and Turkey will not halt the U.S. push for stronger sanctions against Iran, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.
"It does not change the steps that we are taking to hold Iran responsible for its obligations, including sanctions," Gibbs said at the daily White House news briefing.
Under the agreement announced after talks Sunday involving the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil, Tehran said it would send thousands of pounds of low-enriched uranium it produced to Turkey in exchange for more highly enriched fuel to power its reactor that makes isotopes for medical use.
However, Iran later said it intended to continue enriching uranium to the level that can sustain nuclear reactions, a move opposed by the United States and its allies.
Gibbs said Iran's stated intention to continue producing enriched uranium would make the Iranians "noncompliant with their obligations and responsibilities" under international agreements.
"The words and the deeds of the leadership in Iran have rarely coincided," Gibbs said. "So I think, obviously, while shipping out the low-enriched uranium would represent some progress, we still have concerns about the overall thrust of the nuclear program."
Iran says it needs to enrich uranium from its current 3.5 percent to 20 percent because a research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer patients is running out of fuel. However, uranium enriched to 20 percent is the threshold for setting off a nuclear reaction.
The United States and other Western nations have accused Tehran of trying to develop a nuclear weapons program, but Iran's government insists the material is for civilian use.