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Iran Consultations Continue at UN


Consultations continued throughout the weekend at the United Nations, as diplomats seek agreement on the best way for the Security Council to deal with the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Bush administration says there is no time to waste.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes clear the world cannot wait until Iran has the technology to make a nuclear bomb. She says the international community must take a stand now, and take action to prevent the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium on Iranian soil.

"Enrichment and reprocessing capability is the core here," Rice says. "If you are able to enrich and reprocess, then the ability to build a bomb is there."

In a series of appearances on American television news programs, Secretary Rice stressed, the United States wants the matter resolved through diplomacy, starting with an official statement from the Security Council. She told NBC's Meet the Press program that it is important for the international community to speak as one.

"Everybody takes very seriously Iran's intransigence and Iran's unwillingness to do what the international community has determined it will do," Rice says.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog arm of the United Nations, recently asked the Security Council to take up the Iran issue.

Three of the five permanent council members, the United States, Britain and France, have called for strong action to keep Iran from reprocessing uranium. But the other two permanent council members, China and Russia, have voiced reservations about what action to take.

On CNN's Late Edition, Rice reiterated that she discussed the matter Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. She stressed Moscow has already backed the demands put forward by the I.A.E.A.

"Now, the question is, what tactics do we use, now that we are in the Security Council, to get the Iranians to come to terms with what they must do," Rice says. "On that, we have had some differences."

The secretary of state said she believes the gap with Russia can be closed, and said Washington is looking ahead to a possible new set of meetings on Iran with Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.

Iran, which maintains its nuclear program is solely designed to meet civilian energy needs, has vowed to stand firm against international pressure. But the United States and others have long maintained Iran's nuclear power plants could be a cover for the development of nuclear weapons, and its reprocessing activities must be stopped.

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