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Rice Calls for Security Council To Take Up Iranian Nuclear Issue

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

United States joins EU foreign ministers in calling for U.N. involvement

Washington - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined her European counterparts January 12 in calling for a referral of the Iranian nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council.

Iran's decision to remove the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) seals from its nuclear research facilities "demonstrates that it has chosen confrontation with the international community over cooperation and negotiation," Rice said.

"We agree that the Iranian regime's defiant resumption of uranium enrichment work leaves the EU with no choice but to request an emergency meeting of the IAEA board of governors. That meeting would be to report Iran's noncompliance with its safeguards obligations to the U.N. Security Council," she said.

Foreign ministers of Germany, France and Great Britain (collectively known as the EU-3) and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana issued a statement January 12 saying EU-3 negotiations with Iran have come to a dead end.  "We believe the time has now come for the Security Council to become involved," they said in the joint statement.

The Iranian government triggered the current crisis by resuming its nuclear research activities after a two-year moratorium designed to facilitate negotiations with the EU-3 over Iran's nuclear program.  Rice said that by its actions, Iran  unilaterally has destroyed the basis for those negotiations.

The secretary said that all the major world powers, including Russia and China, are concerned by Iran's decision to restart its nuclear research in the face of strong international opposition.  "I think it's very clear that everybody believes that a very important threshold has been crossed here," she said.

Rice added that Iran has a history of hiding its nuclear activities and defying international monitoring efforts, thereby creating suspicion that its nuclear ambitions are not peaceful.

"The Security Council is a very important step because it brings a certain weight to the IAEA requirements that is currently not there," Rice said.  She expressed the hope that the U.N. Security Council, with its ability to impose sanctions and pursue other punitive actions, would be able to demand answers and obtain clarifications that the Iranians have refused to provide to the IAEA.

Rice said that the Iranian regime has been moving toward greater confrontation with the international community over this issue for a long time despite numerous diplomatic overtures.  She noted that in March 2005 the United States offered to lift its objection to Iranian accession to the World Trade Organization and allow trade in spare parts for airplanes as goodwill measures in support of the EU-3's negotiations.

"This was a time when Iran, I think, could see the international community coming together around a strategy, that while recognizing that this was not an issue about their rights to peaceful nuclear energy, would have given them access to peaceful nuclear energy. We have been on a course ever since then where they've not taken repeated opportunities to take the world up on that," she said.

Iran's recent decision to revive its research activities follows an August 2005 decision to resume uranium conversion activities at its Isfahan nuclear facility, a move that also met with broad international condemnation.

Rice placed the blame for the escalating diplomatic crisis squarely on the Iranian regime, saying that the Iranian people deserve a better government that would allow them to achieve their potential and integrate fully into the international community.

"[P]erhaps it's just a regime that has miscalculated, that believes that the world will not react in the way that it is indeed reacting," she said. "And I would hope that now seeing the very powerful reaction of the international community, that Iran would take a step back and look at the isolation that it is about to experience."

For additional information on U.S. policy, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Middle East and North Africa.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


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