Reuters: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the United Nations on Saturday to be tough with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and said the Security Council must take action when diplomacy has been exhausted. Reuters
By Sue Pleming
UNITED NATIONS – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the United Nations on Saturday to be tough with Iran over its nuclear ambitions and said the Security Council must take action when diplomacy has been exhausted.
In her first address to the U.N. General Assembly, Rice said Iran and its “nuclear weapons capability” was an issue the United Nations had to tackle.
“It must be able to deal with great challenges like terrorism and nuclear proliferation, especially when countries like Iran threaten the effectiveness of the global nonproliferation regime,” she said.
Tehran insists its atomic program is for purely civilian energy purposes. Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was due to unveil new nuclear proposals later on Saturday to the General Assembly.
The Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog agency was set to consider on Monday whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, a move the United States has been pushing for.
Rice has been in New York for most of the week, holding meetings with key foreign leaders on the sidelines of a U.N. summit to try persuade them to act against Iran, which broke off nuclear talks with the European Union last month.
Rice said Iran should give up its nuclear weapons “capability” and return to talks with the three EU nations — Britain, France and Germany — that have been leading the effort to resolve the issue.
A prepared version of Rice’s remarks included harsher language, which described Iran as a “leading state sponsor of terrorism” whose nuclear ambitions threatened to destroy peace hopes in the Middle East.
FOCUS ON REFORM
In her speech, Rice also stressed the need to reform the United Nations and equip the world body to tackle problems such as terrorism, weapons proliferation, pandemic disease and trafficking in human beings.
“The members of this body must work together to strengthen security in a world threatened by stateless extremists,” she said, adding it was time for all U.N. members to outlaw acts of terrorism.
World leaders on Friday endorsed moderate reforms of the United Nations at the end of a summit that made only limited progress on fighting poverty and terrorism, boosting security or protecting human rights.
The United States has been among the most vocal critics of the United Nations, which many in Congress see as a bloated and inefficient body, particularly after revelations of corruption and mismanagement of the U.N.-run Iraq oil-for-food program and a sex abuse scandal involving peacekeepers.
“For this institution to become an engine of change in the 21st century, it must now change itself. The United Nations must launch a lasting revolution of reform,” she said.
Rice said the United States was open to expanding the U.N. Security Council and said Washington had long supported a permanent seat for Japan, although it has repeatedly sought delays in moves to enlarge the 15-nation council.