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US Says Only Iran to Blame for its Nuclear Predicament


The United States Thursday rejected an Iranian charge that it is trying to wreck contacts between Iran and Russia on Iran's nuclear program. The State Department said Iran is solely to blame for its international isolation on the issue.

The Bush administration has reiterated its support for Russian efforts to find a compromise solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

It says an Iranian charge the United States is trying to torpedo those talks is nothing more than blame-casting by Tehran for its own deception and prevarication on the nuclear issue.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larajani said in Moscow Friday, after another inconclusive round of talks with Russian officials, that the United States is trying to destroy Russian efforts at a nuclear compromise.

Russia has offered to enrich uranium on its territory for Iran to assuage international concerns about Tehran's nuclear program.

But Russian officials say the latest talks stalled again over an Iranian insistence that it should still be able to conduct some enrichment activity on its own.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said Russian concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions are widely shared in the international community - not just by the United States, but many other countries including the dozens that have supported the referral of the issue to the U.N. Security Council.

"If Iran has a problem with the state of affairs and the situation it finds itself in, Iran has only Iran to blame," said Adam Ereli. "And if they want to point fingers, they'll need more than 10 of them to point, because there are more than 10 parties on the other side of the table concerned about what they're doing."

Iranian envoy Larijani said negotiations with Moscow would end if the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board votes, as expected, next week to send the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council.

The Iranian diplomat will have last-minute talks in Vienna Friday with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, who have led a European effort to get Iran to end sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for trade and other benefits.

Spokesman Ereli said the United States continues to support the European diplomacy, which he said offers Iran a way out of its nuclear predicament.

However, he said it remains to be seen whether Iran will restore the enrichment freeze it undertook under the 2004 Paris agreement with the Europeans but later reneged on, or is just trying to forestall the prospect of international censure.

He said the Bush administration is under no illusions about Iran's intentions.

The United States has long maintained that Iran's nominally peaceful nuclear program conceals a secret weapons effort.

It has led efforts to have the matter sent to the Security Council, but has not said what sanctions or other punitive measures against Iran it might seek in that forum.

The 35-nation IAEA governing board convenes in Vienna Monday to hear a report on the issue from its director-general Mohamed ElBaradei.

A Security Council referral is considered a virtual certainly, since the United States, the European Union, Russia and China agreed in principle on such a move January 31 in London.

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