AP: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Iran on notice Sunday that the incentives offered by the West to end its nuclear program are not open-ended, although she declined to say Tehran had a firm deadline to respond. Associated Press
By NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Iran on notice Sunday that the incentives offered by the West to end its nuclear program are not open-ended, although she declined to say Tehran had a firm deadline to respond.
“I’m not one for timelines and specific schedules, but I think it’s fair to say that we really do have to have this settled over a matter of weeks, not months,” Rice said.
Asked whether the U.S. and its allies expected an answer by mid-July when the world’s economic powers attend a summit in Russia, Rice said, “We’ll see where we are at that time.”
“No one among these six powers is prepared to let this simply drag out with Iran continuing to make progress on its nuclear program,” she said.
The six nations – the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia – agreed Thursday to offer Iran new incentives if it would give up uranium enrichment. The nations said they would punish Iran if it refused.
The United States and other Western nations suspect Iran’s nuclear program is intended to produce weapons. Tehran insists it is only for generating electricity.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Saturday that a breakthrough was possible and welcomed unconditional talks with all parties, including the United States.
But Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, insisted Sunday that his country would not give up the right to produce nuclear fuel. He also warned that energy supplies from the Gulf region would be disrupted if Iran came under attack from the United States. Rice dismissed that talk.
“I think that we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on a threat of this kind,” Rice told “Fox News Sunday.”
She cited Iran’s heavy dependence on oil revenue. “So obviously it would be a very serious problem for Iran if oil were to be disrupted on the market,” she said.