AP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday there is no evidence that Iran intends to back down in a diplomatic
standoff over its disputed nuclear program, but she hedged her bets on when the United States might seek punishment at the U.N.
By ANNE GEARAN
AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday there is no evidence that Iran intends to back down in a diplomatic standoff over its disputed nuclear program, but she hedged her bets on when the United States might seek punishment at the U.N.
In an Associated Press interview, Rice refused to comment on reports that President Bush authorized a spy agency to eavesdrop without warrants on people inside the United States.
“I can tell you this: The president of the United States took an oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution and he has been doing precisely that,” Rice said.
“This president has operated within the law, within his constitutional authority, within his responsibilities, and that’s an assurance that I think will stand the test of time.”
On Iran, Rice said “everybody continues to hope” that the country’s new hardline leadership will resume negotiations in Europe over giving up a suspected weapons program. “I haven’t seen any evidence that Iran is interested in a deal that is going to be acceptable to an international community that is extremely skeptical of what the Iranians are up to,” Rice said.
She predicted the United States would have enough votes at the U.N. Security Council to impose international sanctions against Iran but hinted she was waiting for other nations to join such an effort.
“We also recognize that it is important for others to also come to the conclusion that we’ve exhausted the diplomatic possibilities,” Rice said.
The top U.S. diplomat said anew that she has no desire to be president. She declined an invitation to rule out a bid in 2008, when Bush’s term is up.
“I’ve said I don’t want to be president and that ought to say it,” she said.
“I’m flattered,” by the speculation, said Rice, the most popular member of Bush’s administration as measured by opinion polls, but “I’ve got my hands full and I know what my skills are.”