Iran Nuclear NewsRice sees no sign Iran drop sensitive atom work

Rice sees no sign Iran drop sensitive atom work

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Reuters: Iran has not provided any evidence to suggest it is willing to freeze sensitive nuclear work, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday following talks between Tehran and the European Union. By Sue Pleming

MADRID (Reuters) – Iran has not provided any evidence to suggest it is willing to freeze sensitive nuclear work, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday following talks between Tehran and the European Union.

Rice said on arrival in Madrid, where EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani met on Thursday, that she had not yet been briefed on the substance of the meeting.

“But I hope they were constructive,” Rice told reporters traveling with her. “The only question is: are we getting to a point where the Iranians are prepared to suspend (sensitive nuclear work) so that negotiations can begin?”

“I don’t see any evidence of it but I frankly haven’t had a chance to speak to Javier (Solana) since the talks concluded,” she said.

Rice said she would speak to Solana on Friday or Saturday. Her busy schedule in Spain included talks with the king, prime minister and foreign minister before heading back to Washington.

The EU-Iran talks produced no breakthrough on the core dispute — Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a condition for negotiations on trade benefits, despite the specter of a third round of punitive U.N. sanctions against it.

But Solana said Iran, which has the world’s second largest oil and gas reserves, indicated more willingness to cooperate with U.N. watchdog inquiries into the nature its program.

Tehran says it is solely for electricity generation but Western powers suspect is a front for building atom bombs.

Asked about suggestions that the United States and others might be prepared to show flexibility on conditions for negotiations with Iran to defuse the stand-off, Rice said Washington had already been flexible on the “myriad ways” Solana had been given to consult with the Iranians.

ELBARADEI WARNS AGAINST “NEW CRAZIES”

There have been suggestions the West might settle for a partial enrichment halt to nudge Iran into negotiations but Rice has rejected that, saying only full compliance would be enough.

“Iran must not use those negotiations as cover to keep U.N. activity at bay, to keep the international community off-balance as to what is going on. That is what we can’t accept,” she said.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has suggested the Western policy of withholding enrichment capability from Iran is obsolete because Iran already has the technology.

He cautioned on Friday against the “new crazies” advocating military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program and said he did not want to see another war like that in Iraq.

“I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis, innocent civilians, are dying,” ElBaradei told BBC Radio.

“I have no brief other than to make sure we don’t go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran’,” he said in a documentary, excerpts from which were published on the BBC’s Web site in advance.

Enrichment is a process of refining uranium for power plants, or if taken to a very high degree, atom bombs. A report by ElBaradei’s IAEA last week said Iran was expanding a campaign to install 3,000 enrichment centrifuges by mid-summer, laying a basis for “industrial-scale” fuel production.

Asked who the “new crazies” were he replied: “Those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.”

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