Reuters: The United States is willing to give European negotiator Javier Solana more time for talks on the nuclear issue with Iran but major powers will support sanctions if Tehran does not suspend uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday. By Carol Giacomo
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 19 (Reuters) – The United States is willing to give European negotiator Javier Solana more time for talks on the nuclear issue with Iran but major powers will support sanctions if Tehran does not suspend uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.
“The United States is willing to support Solana’s discussions” with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani which are now in “extra innings” beyond an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline for Iran to halt enrichment, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters.
“If Iran does not suspend, then we will fulfill (U.N. Security Council resolution) 1696 and adopt sanctions measures under article 41 of the U.N. Charter,” he said after a meeting of foreign ministers of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China.
He declined to say how long the United States, the prime advocate of sanctions, was willing to wait for the Solana-Larijani talks to bear fruit. But he said the major powers had set a deadline.
“These extra innings are not going to be endless. There will come a time shortly, but I will not put a date on it” when the major powers will need an unequivocal answer, Burns said.
Larijani, who was expected to meet Solana in New York this week on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly, is still in Tehran, U.S. officials said. They said Solana and Larijani would meet soon, but gave no further details.
The West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons but Tehran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who hosted Tuesday’s meeting, said earlier that she would press her guests to back the U.S. call for sanctions against Iran.
However, China, Russia and some European allies have voiced skepticism. French President Jacques Chirac said on Tuesday he opposed setting a deadline for sanctions, arguing that dialogue should be allowed to run its course.