Officials: U.S. Rebuffs Europe on Iran Nuke Talks (REUTERS) By Saul Hudson WASHINGTON 01/30/05 01:06 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has rebuffed pleas to join a
European diplomatic drive to persuade Iran to give up any ambitions
to add nuclear bombs to its arsenal, U.S. officials and foreign
For months, Britain, France and Germany have hoped to improve their
bargaining power with the Islamic republic by involving Washington in
a proposed accord over an end to its uranium enrichment activities.
That effort has intensified since President Bush´s re-election in
November, culminating last week with ministerial visits to
Condoleezza Rice days before she took up her new post as secretary of
state, they said.
So far, the Americans show no sign of giving ground.
"It´s what they (the Europeans) have always wanted to do," a senior
Bush administration official said. "(British Foreign Secretary) Jack
(Straw) came over hoping Condi would change our policy and she
A senior State Department official said Straw, who visited on Monday,
one day before Germany´s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer came on a
similar mission, outlined European hopes for the negotiations.
The idea of getting the Bush administration into the talks "is in the
air," he said.
"But we have not been (formally) asked yet and when we are, we will
say, ´What good would it do?"´
The United States takes a harder line than the Europeans and wants
Iran, which Bush grouped in an "axis of evil" with pre-war Iraq and
North Korea, to be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible
U.S. officials say that would increase pressure on Iran and push
council members China and Russia to curtail arms and energy deals,
respectively, which Washington believes could boost the Islamic
republic´s nuclear capability.
Iran denies U.S. charges it is pursuing a nuclear bomb and says its
programs are only for peaceful power generation needed to keep up
with its growing population.
EURO LOBBYING COMES UP EMPTY
A European diplomat acknowledged the lobbying had failed to overcome
U.S. skepticism about the talks, but Europe hoped Washington would
eventually be persuaded if Iran kept to the agreement that offers
energy, technology and trade incentives.
"The Europeans believe that the U.S. position will evolve in
accordance with how Iran lives up to its commitments.
"But frankly there remains skepticism within the administration as to
whether Iran is willing or capable of the transformation required,"
the diplomat said.
The Europeans -- with reluctant U.S. acquiescence -- have negotiated
a freeze of Iran´s uranium enrichment in an accord similar to one
that broke down last year. Enrichment, which Iran has refused to give
up permanently, can help generate power or make bombs.
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Friday urged the United
States to look to join the talks.
The United States has mixed tough talk with a few modest hints that
diplomacy may yet work, but few analysts see any fundamental change
in Bush administration policy.
"The administration is pleased with its policy and sees no reason to
change," said Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy, which has close ties to Iran´s arch-
The stance was a "gamble" that Iran´s hard-line rulers would be
overthrown before they acquired a bomb, he said.
On Sunday, Rice told CBS´ Face the Nation: "We really do believe ...
that this is something that can be dealt with diplomatically. What is
needed is unity of purpose, unity of message to the Iranians, that we
will not allow them to skirt their international obligations and
develop nuclear weapons under cover of civilian nuclear power."
Her remarks came after the president refused to rule out a military
strike and his hard-line vice president said Iran was top of the
world´s trouble spots and warned the region´s biggest U.S. ally,
Israel, could hit its facilities. (© Reuters 2005 01/30/05)
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