News / Middle East

    Clinton Names Special Envoy to Expedite Iran Sanctions Implementation

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she is naming senior State Department diplomat Robert Einhorn to lead a U.S. government-wide effort to speed implementation of the new U.N. nuclear sanctions against Iran.  Clinton told reporters in Colombia that there are differences within the Iranian leadership over whether to pursue nuclear weapons.  

    While the Security Council vote marked a successful end to months of intensive U.S. diplomacy on Iran, Clinton said she is taking nothing for granted and that the Obama administration is setting up an interagency team to pursue sanctions implementation.

    In a talk with reporters traveling with her in Bogota, Clinton said that State Department Special Advisor for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Robert Einhorn will head up the U.S. effort.

    Clinton lamented Iran's failure to respond to overtures from major powers to address concerns that its nuclear program is weapons related.  She said she believes from information from countries with direct dealings with Iran that there is not unanimity in Tehran about whether to acquire an atomic weapons capability.

    "I do know from reports coming from a number of other countries that have had first-hand negotiations over the nuclear program that there is a diversity of opinion within the leadership - not over their right to enrich to use for peaceful nuclear purposes that is absolutely agreed to by everyone in the leadership, but whether or not there should be a move toward a breakout capacity of toward weapons," said Hillary Clinton. "There is a lot of debate within the [Iranian] leadership."

    Clinton stressed that there is still ample room for diplomacy with Iran over the nuclear issue, despite the sanctions vote, and that Turkey and Brazil, which tried last-minute mediation with Tehran, can still play a role.

    She stressed U.S. appreciation for what she said was the two countries' good-faith and hard work on the nuclear issue despite their "no" votes on the sanctions resolution.

    "In the ongoing diplomatic outreach to Iran, I think that Turkey and Brazil will continue to play an important role," she said. "They chose for whatever reason, which perhaps they will explain later, to vote 'no' - in part, I'm sure, in their minds to keep the door open between themselves and Iran.  That's a legitimate assessment.  We disagree with their vote, but I can understand from a diplomatic perspective how they might be able to make a convincing case for how they voted today."

    Clinton, who telephoned Lebanese President Michel Suleiman before the vote, said she believed Lebanon's abstention on the sanctions reflected Beirut's awareness that most Arab states are acutely concerned about Iran's nuclear program.

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