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Rice Cites Disappointment in Iran's Nuclear Stand

Rice Cites Broad Disappointment in Iran's Nuclear Stand

Diplomats building international consensus against Iran's nuclear ambitions

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- If the government in Tehran continues to demonstrate that it is not prepared to give the international community assurances on its nuclear weapons programs, "at some point in time Iran is going to be referred to the Security Council," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said September 19.

Diplomats, including senior U.S. officials, have been engaged in a series of meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly since the September 17 speech of Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left little doubt that Iran would continue to process uranium and to rebuff international efforts aimed at bringing Iran into compliance with its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) responsibilities.

"I think there was broad disappointment at the Iranian speech and the fact that there seemed to be very little recognition that there are real concerns about what Iran has been doing over the last 15 years," Rice told journalists at the United Nations.

The secretary said that the timing of any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) referral of Iran to the Security Council "is a matter for diplomacy."

Nevertheless, she said, there is no disagreement that "there are serious concerns about the Iranian nuclear activities, that those concerns have got to be answered, and that Iran must be prevented from gaining the technology and the technological know-how that would potentially lead to nuclear weapons in a very volatile region."

Pointing out that Iran walked out of negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom, known as the EU-3, Rice said, "It's time for Iran to get back to those negotiations and to take note of and try to respond to the legitimate concerns of the international community."

"The international community has a legitimate interest in the health and viability of the nonproliferation regime," the secretary said. "There are multiple ways to deal with states about which there are questions and I think that the EU-3 . . . has tried very hard to give the Iranians a way to deal with the questions about their program."

IRAN’S AMBITIONS “CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM,” STATE’S FRIED SAYS

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dan Fried said that the United States will meet with the EU-3 and IAEA to discuss how to proceed.

Ahmadinejad's speech to the U.N. General Assembly was so harsh that it "demands an expression of solidarity among the nations of the world concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions," Fried said at a press briefing at the New York Foreign Press Center September 19.

"We should not be distracted by other issues when we are grappling with this very serious challenge to international peace and security. Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are a problem. They have been and will continue to be a problem," Fried said.

Any differences the United States had with the EU-3 in 2004 on Iran have been resolved and "we intend to work closely with them and build out to deepen the international consensus," he said.

The assistant secretary expressed the hope that all 25 European nations "come to see things the way the EU-3 have and come to see that Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions are a major, major problem for the world."

"I don't know of any European government which does not contemplate a nuclear armed Iran with grave trepidation, to say the least," he said. "I think Iran's speech did nothing to increase confidence in Iran's intention. Quite the opposite."

Judging by Ahmadinejad's speech, Iran doesn't realize the depth of the international community's concern, he said. "They need to get it."

The United States believes that "Iran is not in compliance with its (NPT) obligations and I think that view is shared widely by European governments. We need to find a way to express this international concern very clearly and very loudly so the Iranians get the message," the assistant secretary said.

"This is going to require some difficult decisions and some considerable resolve. This is a serious diplomatic problem," he added.

The diplomatic steps need to the "clear and strong," he said. "We need to face squarely that we have a problem. The international community needs to deal with it and focus on it."

Fried said he hoped that the agreement reached with North Korea September 19 to end its nuclear weapons program will show the Iranians "that there are ways negotiated solutions can be reached."

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