AFP: Iran’s response to diplomatic efforts to reach a compromise over its nuclear program is not good enough, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday ahead of a crunch meeting of key powers here. by Michael Adler
LONDON, Jan 30, 2006 (AFP) – Iran’s response to diplomatic efforts to reach a compromise over its nuclear program is not good enough, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday ahead of a crunch meeting of key powers here.
Threatened with referral to the UN Security Council, Iran is calling for more time for negotiation, but Rice said Tehran had shown its true face since already being given extra time in September.
She said the Iranians “responded by breaking their moratorium (on uranium enrichment), ending negotiations and breaking the seals on the equipment so that they could enrich and reprocess.”
“I think we’ve had our answer from the Iranian government. It’s not a very satisfactory one,” Rice told a press conference in London.
She said she was looking forward to a meeting here later Monday of foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany to hammer out a resolution for Thursday’s emergency meeting in Vienna of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Europe and the United States want the Iran dossier referred to the Security Council for action.
The IAEA had in September found Tehran in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for hiding nuclear work for almost two decades.
It called on Iran to suspend all work on making nuclear fuel, as this can also produce atom bomb material, and to cooperate fully with IAEA inspectors.
But while a finding of non-compliance requires referring the matter to the Security Council for possible sanctions, the IAEA board of governors put off such a report to give Iran time to comply with its demands.
Iran then set off the latest crisis on January 10 when it broke IAEA seals on enrichment equipment.
It is now asking for time to negotiate with Russia on a proposal by Moscow that enrichment could be carried out abroad.
This would enable enrichment for the purposes of civilian nuclear power but ensure Iran does not get the technology for a process that it could break out into a weapons capacity.
But Rice noted that the Russian proposal “has been out there for some time. It’s not as if the Russians proposed this last week.”
“So when the Iranians now advance interest in the Russian proposal, one has to wonder if that isn’t because they now face the prospect of referral to the Security Council,” Rice said, adding that the Iranians still call the Russian proposal “inadequate.”
She said there was “a lot of agreement among the international community here that Iran should not be allowed to get a nuclear weapon, and that also means denying them the technologies that could lead to breakout capacity for a nuclear weapon.”
“Differences about tactics and timing there may be but I don’t hear anyone saying to the Iranians that they are on the right side of this issue. And so the Iranians need to hear that message,” Rice said.
She said that taking the Iranian issue to the Security Council “is not the end of diplomacy. It’s just diplomacy in a different, more robust context.”
Rice reiterated the US position that while it is not considering military action against Iran, US President George W. Bush “doesn’t take his options off the table.”