AFP: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday
that Iran should not seek to develop nuclear weapons under the pretenses of developing a civilian nuclear program. “There needs to be a very clear commitment from the Iranians to live up to their international obligations and not to seek nuclear weapons under cover of nuclear civilian power,” Rice told … AFP
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that Iran should not seek to develop nuclear weapons under the pretenses of developing a civilian nuclear program.
“There needs to be a very clear commitment from the Iranians to live up to their international obligations and not to seek nuclear weapons under cover of nuclear civilian power,” Rice told reporters after meeting here with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
Solana for his part said Iran knew the “consequences” if it did not issue certain guarantees about its nuclear aims, hinting the issue could be brought before the UN Security Council.
Rice spoke after a department spokesman renewed a call earlier Tuesday for Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment program after Iran reserved the right to pursue such activities despite fears it was working on a nuclear bomb.
“There is no reason for them to have an enrichment and reprocessing program,” said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
“We continue to believe that this is the only way for Iran to resolve this issue, and a way that the international community will be able to verify and to support,” Rice stressed.
“And so we very much hope the talks are going to succeed. The Iranians need to take advantage of the opportunity that the Europeans are giving them,” she said.
Solana said the European Union was of the same mindset.
“We have the same point of view vis a vis the negotiations and we have to thank also the United States for the help they have given us in this complicated negotiation,” Solana said.
Rice spoke after Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said his country was bent on carrying out uranium enrichment, which Washington fears is part of a nuclear arms program.
The Islamic republic denies seeking atomic weapons. But Kharazi told a UN conference on non-proliferation Tuesday that “Iran for its part is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology.”
Iran had agreed to suspend enrichment as part of negotiations with Germany, France and Britain, which hope to wean Tehran off any nuclear arms ambitions through economic and security incentives.
The United States is backing the effort, but both US and European officials have signaled their impatience with the slow pace of talks. The US envoy to the UN conference took a hard line toward Iran on Monday.
Stephen Rademaker called for “permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activities.”
Rademaker, assistant secretary of state for arms control, also said states not complying with nuclear safeguards provided in the Non-Proliferation Treaty should be deprived of help in developing peaceful atomic technology.
Rice has signaled that Washington was willing to give the European talks with Iran until the summer before starting to look around for other options in dealing with Tehran.