AFP: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Iran must stop all uranium reprocessing activities in order to head off further UN sanctions. OSLO, April 26, 2007 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that Iran must stop all uranium reprocessing activities in order to head off further UN sanctions.
Rice reiterated an offer by the United States and its major power allies of trade and political incentives for Iran as well as the start of direct negotiations if Tehran accepted UN demands to stop uranium enrichment.
“The only condition for beginning those discussions … is that Iran suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities,” Rice said during a visit to Oslo for talks with NATO and Russian foreign ministers.
Rice’s comments appeared to rule out a mooted compromise under which Iran could pledge not to expand its current reprocessing activity without actually halting the work.
“What we can’t have is Iran practising enrichment and reprocessing, because that’s what they’re doing — you get better at it over time — at the same time that we’re in negotiations,” she said.
Speaking as top European and Iranian negotiators met in Turkey on the nuclear issue, Rice said the guiding principle for any contacts with Tehran had to be “suspension for suspension.”
“That means that we would be prepared to withhold further action in the UN Security Council if Iran is prepared to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing,” she said.
Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to fuel nuclear power plants, while the United States and its allies believe the Islamic Republic is bent on producing highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.
Rice said Iran had proven it could not be trusted on the issue by hiding its enrichment efforts from international inspectors for nearly 20 years.
“There is no confidence about Iran’s intentions here, they appear to be moving toward a nuclear weapon,” she said.
Rice spoke shortly after Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani said talks Thursday in Ankara with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had brought the two sides closer to a “united view” on ending the crisis.
The talks were the first face-to-face meetings between Larijani and Solana, who represents the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, since a second round of limited UN sanctions on Iran in March.
More talks are scheduled in two weeks.
Diplomats had said earlier that the six world powers were ready to compromise and give Iran a face-saving chance to edge its way slowly into stopping uranium enrichment.
One diplomat said a new idea would be for Iran to declare a moratorium on moving beyond enrichment activities it has already started.