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No More Stalling On Iran Rice

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Mar 24, 2006
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, displaying impatience with slow UN talks on Iran's nuclear activities, warned Thursday "there can't be any stalling" in dealing with the potential threat.

"There is no time for delay in taking on this issue," Rice said of the discussions on a draft UN Security Council statement on Iran that have been snagged by objections from Russia and China.

"There can't be any stalling. The international community has got to act," the chief US diplomat told reporters after talks here with Greek Foreign Minister Theodora Bakoyannis.

Citing what she called an "erosion of confidence" in Iranian statements that its nuclear program was strictly peaceful, Rice again called for a united front to press Tehran to give up suspected plans to build a nuclear bomb.

"People are looking to the international community to show that this can indeed be dealt with diplomatically," she said. "We are committed to a diplomatic solution, but it has to be dealt with."

Her tone contrasted with her remarks a day earlier while on a trip to the Bahamas, where she expressed confidence the UN Security Council would eventually agree on the language of a statement on Iran.

"We will come up with a vehicle (for addressing the Iranians), I am quite certain of it," she had told a news conference. "If it takes a little longer, I'm really not concerned about that."

A Western diplomat reported Thursday that the UN Security Council would not reach agreement this week on a Franco-British statement demanding that Iran suspend all uranium-enrichment activities.

The diplomat, who asked not to be named, said the council's five veto-wielding permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- were too far apart for a deal to be sealed this week.

The talks among the so-called P-5 have been bogged down by Russian and Chinese opposition to any hint of punitive measures, including sanctions, in the Franco-British statement.

The United States' UN ambassador, John Bolton, told reporters in New York that the P-5 ambassadors were awaiting the outcome of conversations at the ministerial level before deciding their next move.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "There are discussions going on, and clearly we haven't reached a final agreement on a text, so we're going to have to continue with our diplomacy."

He said Rice in recent days had spoken to her British counterpart Jack Straw on several occasions but did not report any other contacts.

"We believe it's moving in the right direction," McCormack said, adding that "right now, our focus is on a presidential (non-binding) statement" that requires unanimity by the 15-member council.

Washington and its European allies have been pressing Tehran to suspend its uranium-enrichment activities and return to negotiations on economic and other incentives for abandoning any nuclear weapons aspirations.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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