U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that consensus is building among world powers that Iran should face consequences for defying proposals to ease international concerns about its nuclear program. Clinton is holding Iran consultations on the sidelines of London meetings on Yemen and Afghanistan.
Clinton says U.S. partners see Iran's refusal to accept a compromise proposal on uranium enrichment offered last October as a turning point on the nuclear issue. She says there is a growing understanding that Iran should face consequences for its defiance of international obligations.
The Secretary spoke to U.S. reporters as she pursued a round of consultations in London with foreign ministers focusing on possible new U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
Clinton discussed Iran among other issues at her London hotel with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and later described Moscow as being very willing to work with the United States on applying pressure on Tehran.
China's refusal to send a ranking diplomat to an Iran meeting in New York earlier this month of the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany, the P5+1, prompted reports that Beijing stood against new penalties for Tehran.
But Clinton, who is scheduled to meet with her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Iran and other issues here Thursday, said she did not think she needs to change the foreign minister's mind about the need for further pressure. "On Iran, I don't think there is a mind to change. I think that there is an openness. I think there is an awareness of the importance of the international community standing together with respect to Iran," she said.
Clinton refused to provide a time line for possible new sanctions against Iran, saying that she did not want to preview or preempt diplomacy. But she insisted that the new emphasis to pressure Iran is not an exclusively American initiative.
"This is an initiative of the P5+1 and other countries who agree, with all of us, that Iran has failed to respond to the international obligations it assumed. It has flaunted U.N. Security Council resolutions. It has defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. And the world has a stake in ensuring that there are consequences for that kind of behavior," she said.
The U.N. nuclear agency proposed last October that Iran export much of the low-grade enriched uranium it has produced to be refined abroad for use in a Tehran medical research reactor.
Acceptance of the proposal would have eased concerns that the Iranian enrichment program is weapons-related, despite Tehran's assertions of its peaceful intent.
A senior U.S. official says Iran's refusal to engage seriously on the offer has led the Obama administration to conclude that its outreach to Tehran is not being reciprocated and that additional pressure is needed.
He expressed confidence that the major powers will begin negotiations in earnest on a new U.N. sanctions resolution in a matter of weeks.