AFP: The Obama administration said Friday that Iran missed another opportunity to break the deadlock with the world community over its nuclear program during a surprise, high-profile UN dinner Thursday.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Obama administration said Friday that Iran missed another opportunity to break the deadlock with the world community over its nuclear program during a surprise, high-profile UN dinner Thursday.
The administration also claimed that Iran’s dinner invitation to all 15 UN Security Council members on Thursday is another sign that Tehran is worried about its international isolation and that US diplomacy is paying off.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the US and other delegates to the dinner hosted by Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki failed to bridge differences over a proposed nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran.
“It was a frank and professional exchange,” Crowley told reporters.
“Members of the Security Council pressed the Iranian government to promptly meet its international obligations,” he said.
“Several members of the council, including the US, pointed out the significant flaws and shortcomings in Iran’s approach,” he added.
“Mottaki focused on the Iranian counterproposal to the Tehran research reactor, which deviates in significant ways from the balanced IAEA proposal that Iran agreed to and then walked away from last October,” he said.
He was referring to the confidence-building proposal from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which would allow Iran to send most of its lower-grade uranium abroad to be further enriched for medical use.
“But we see this as yet another missed opportunity by Iran to meet its international obligations,” he said.
The United States has been spearheading a drive for a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions. It is trying to get Iran to stop enriching uranium, which can be used as fuel either for civilian power reactors or atomic weapons.
However, China is the main holdout to tougher sanctions, along with Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon, on the Security Council.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, the director of policy planning at the State Department, told colleagues here that Iran is trying all the harder to engage the international community in a bid to stop its growing isolation.
“President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad coming to the UN, the dinner last night… I read these as signs that the government is quite worried,” Slaughter told diplomats and Foreign Service staff in a speech broadcast to journalists.
The Iranians “are always trying to block, but… they are even more actively engaging right now to try to stop anything that will make them more isolated. I read that as some sign of our success,” Slaughter said.
Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to travel to the United Nations for the first two days of nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.
In a surprise move, Iran invited all 15 UN Security Council members to dinner Thursday in New York, yielding one of the highest-level US-Iran contacts since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since April 1980, and face-to-face encounters between the countries’ senior officials are rare.