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US Working Hard To Implement Its Plan At UN On Iran Nuclear Crisis

US President George W. Bush (R) meets with French President Jacques Chirac 19 September, 2006 in New York during a bilateral meeting ahead of the 61st United Nations General Assembly. Chirac said Tuesday that France and the United States have "the same approach" on the Iranian nuclear challenge, after meeting with Bush. Photo courtesy of Patrick Kovarik and AFP.
by Staff Writers
New York NY (AFP) Sep 19, 2006
On the day the US drive for sanctions against Iran was due to kick into high gear at the United Nations, Washington found itself Tuesday reluctantly obliged to back European negotiations with Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons program. But the administration of President George W. Bush remains deeply skeptical that Iran will suspend its uranium enrichment program, asserting that Tehran is simply playing for time to further its nuclear ambitions.

Bush met here Thursday with France's Jacques Chirac, a day after the French president appeared to break ranks and oppose further steps towards sanctions against Iran pending the outcome of negotiations still underway between the Europeans and Tehran.

After the meeting, Chirac said the two governments agreed on the need for Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment program as a starting point for full negotiations, that would include the United States, on improving relations between Tehran and the world community.

Chirac, however, stopped short of backing US demands for swift passage of a new UN sanctions resolution, which Washington had hoped to have in place this month.

Bush for his part agreed to accept a continued "dialogue" between the European Union and Iran, saying that if the talks lead to Iran suspending its enrichment activity as required by a July UN resolution, "the United States will come to the table".

But he added that "time is of the essence" and warned against efforts by Iran to stall for time while they perfect their still nascent enrichment program, which Washington and others say is a cover for developing atomic arms.

"If they continue to stall, we will then discuss the consequences of their stalling and one of those consequences is going to be some sort of sanctions program," he said.

"Now's the time for the Iranians to come to the table," he said.

The Chirac-Bush meeting, to be followed by a much-awaited address to the opening session of the UN General Assembly by the US president, came hours before a key meeting of the six nations which have spearheaded the effort to halt Iran's nuclear program.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed she would use the meeting with her fellow foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia to hammer out the details of an eventual sanctions resolution.

"We've always been on two possible tracks," she said, referring to the EU talks with Iran.

"But we are still pursuing the path of sanctions should Iran not follow the UN Security Council resolution and suspend," she said.

Rice warned that the Security Council would lose its credibility if it fails to follow up on its earlier resolution that gave Iran until August 31 to halt its uranium enrichment or face sanctions -- an argument reminiscent of the US position during its failed bid to gain UN backing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"That resolution laid out a clear path for the Iranians to suspend, get into negotiations or face further security counsel action," she said.

"I am certain that the international community won't allow its credibility to decline because it does not live up to its word."

While Bush pursued the drive towards sanctions, EU policy chief Javier Solana planned a new round of talks here this week with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

"If talks between the Solana and the Iranian representative, Larijani, can get us to a suspension, that would be terrific," she said.

Solana has reported progress in his talks with the Iranian, who has reportedly offered a two-month suspension of the enrichment program which could open the way for the US to join in direct talks with Tehran.

Solana on Monday appealed to the United States not to seek a new Security Council resolution pending the outcome of his talks.

"It would be contradictory to do so while we continue to negotiate," he said.

Rice argued that Iran is using the negotiations with Solana in a bid to stall for time, saying the Iranians were "practicing to learn the technologies that will allow (then) to build a nuclear weapon".

"They have to be denied those technologies," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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World Powers Propose Nuclear Fuel Scheme To Avoid Proliferation
Vienna, Austria (AFP) Sep 19, 2006
World powers said Tuesday that making nuclear reactor fuel available through UN-controlled supply centers could keep nations from enriching uranium themselves and learning how to make atomic weapons, a main concern in the Iran crisis. Russia, Germany and the United States each backed the idea of setting up such centers under the control of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a meeting in Vienna Tuesday of the IAEA's 140 member states.

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