Iran Nuclear NewsIran "digging a hole" in nuclear dispute

Iran “digging a hole” in nuclear dispute

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Reuters: A senior U.S. official said on Friday that Iran is “digging a hole deeper and deeper for itself” in the international dispute over its atomic energy program. By Fiona Ortiz

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – A senior U.S. official said on Friday that Iran is “digging a hole deeper and deeper for itself” in the international dispute over its atomic energy program.

“Iran seems to be determined to further its isolation internationally on this issue of nuclear weapons,” Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters in Buenos Aires.

He said only a small handful of countries in the world support Iran, which is under United Nations sanctions that bar the transfer of sensitive material and know-how to its nuclear program.

However, he said that the United States stands by its offer of June last year to negotiate with Iran if that country suspended enrichment at its underground plant at Natanz. He reiterated that the United States would suspend sanctions during the talks.

The United States has put economic sanctions on Iran and is building up forces in the Gulf but says it is committed to diplomacy and has no intention of invading Iran.

In addition, the U.N. nuclear agency has cut back almost half its technical aid projects in Iran to uphold the U.N. sanctions, according to a report obtained by Reuters on Friday.

Iran was hit with the sanctions over its failure to prove to the International Atomic Energy Agency that its experimental efforts to enrich uranium are just for generating power, as it claims. The West suspects Iran wants to produce fuel suitable for atom bombs.

Western and developing states are split over how hard to crack down on Iran.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, is attending a security conference in Germany on Saturday, where U.N. officials hope talks with European policymakers will allow some breathing space in the atomic row.

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