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. Still time for diplomacy in Iran stand-off: US
LONDON, March 27 (AFP) Mar 27, 2007
There is still time to resolve the stand-off between Iran and the international community over its nuclear enrichment programme via diplomacy, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in an interview published Tuesday.

Speaking to the Financial Times from Brussels, Burns said that the United States had "patiently helped to construct this big international coalition," referring to a unanimous UN Security Council vote on Saturday to widen sanctions on Iran over its atomic ambitions.

"I think we have time in which to work," he told the business daily.

"Diplomacy, if it is to be successful, will require patience and persistence and some time if it is to play itself out."

According to Burns, Iran is "clearly in a disadvantageous position internationally -- much more so than where they were six months or 12 months ago."

The council's five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- plus Germany have been pressing Iran to return to talks aimed at allaying fears it seeks to develop atomic weapons.

Burns noted that the Iranian leadership was "not a monolithic regime; it's a cacophonous government that is fighting, we think, within itself."

"We do know that there are people there who want to negotiate and we hope that they will be able to engineer a decision to do just that."

He also dismissed Iranian claims that it will install 3,000 centrifuges with which it can enrich uranium by May.

"I think the Iranians have had a considerable degree of difficulty in proceeding with their enrichment experimentation," Burns was quoted as saying by the FT.

"They have made these fantastic claims ... and yet according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, they have not been able to manage quite as well as they thought they would."

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