Rice Says U.S. at Early Stage of Diplomacy with Iran (REUTERS) By Saul Hudson WASHINGTON 02/01/05 08:53 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on
Tuesday the United States has not run out of patience with diplomatic
efforts to end Iran´s suspected nuclear arms program, despite tough
talk from other U.S. officials.
The U.S. diplomatic playbook included waiting to see whether European
talks with Iran end the crisis, a fall-back option of reporting Iran
to the U.N. Security Council and working with partners such as Russia
to delay its programs, she said.
"For a variety of reasons we are fairly early in the diplomacy," Rice
said in an interview with two news agencies ahead of a trip this week
Her remarks came after President Bush last month refused to rule out
a military strike, and Vice President Dick Cheney said Iran was at
the top of the world´s trouble spots. Cheney also warned that the
region´s biggest U.S. ally, Israel, could hit Iran´s facilities.
That tough talk caused a stir in Europe, whose diplomats have
questioned whether the comments were part of psychological pressure
on Iran or a precursor to military action.
A skeptical Bush administration has rebuffed European pleas to join
their talks. But Rice applauded Britain, Germany and France for
negotiating Iran´s freeze of uranium enrichment activities, which can
help make bombs or generate power.
"The Europeans have embarked on an effort that we greatly
appreciate," said Rice, who travels to Europe as part of a U.S.
strategy to repair ties frayed over the Iraq war.
"We hope for the best. But the Iranians have not demonstrated over
time that they have been particularly good about living up to their
international obligations," she added.
She also said Russia´s decision, which came after U.S. pressure, to
delay delivering fuel for a nuclear reactor had hindered Iran´s
ability to develop weapons.
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.
Rice´s patience is no surprise, despite the Bush administration´s
headline-grabbing rhetoric, said Patrick Clawson of the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
The administration has bet Iran´s rulers are too unpopular to remain
in power long, Clawson said. "There is an optimism within the
administration that the Iran nuclear problem can be managed until
such time as this Iranian regime falls apart," he said.
Still, Washington generally takes a harder line than the Europeans
and wants Iran, which Bush grouped in an "axis of evil" with North
Korea and pre-war Iraq, reported to the 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.
Despite the differences in tactics, Rice stressed the shared U.S.-
European goal of making Iran give up its suspected nuclear arms
"The Iranians are being told across the board that they cannot be
responsible members of the international community and seek nuclear
weapons under cover a of a civilian nuclear program," she
said. "That´s not acceptable." (© Reuters 2005 02/01/05)
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