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U.S. challenges Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful

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The underground nuclear facility recently revealed by Iran is reportedly located near Qom, a Shiite Muslim holy shrine. (SOURCE: ESRI, courtesy of Associated Press)

Top U.S. officials have spoken on multiple news networks, including CNN, about Iran's revelation last week of an underground nuclear facility.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told CNN that intelligence sources "have no doubt that... this is an illicit nuclear facility."

"If they wanted it for peaceful nuclear purposes, there's no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it," Gates said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported Gates' concerns, challenging the Iranian government to be transparent in its purposes and goals.

"The Iranians keep insisting no, no, that's for peaceful purposes. That's fine. Prove it. Don't assert it. Prove it," Clinton said, adding that if Iran fails to verify and demonstrate a peaceful nature for its nuclear program, she will push for stronger sanctions.

Iran has announced that it would permit international inspection of the newly-revealed facility, reaffirming that they have not violated any international regulations. Still, U.S. officials have remained skeptical while maintaining that a military strike by the U.S. or its allies would only be a last resort.

Top lawmakers from both parties have expressed hope that tougher sanctions may force Iran to be more cooperative with an international community that, after North Korea's hot-and-cold attitude, has run out of patience in regards to belligerent states seeking nuclear power.

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