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US Continues to Seek Diplomatic Solution to Iran Nuclear Issue

The United States says it seeks a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with Iran, but a U.S. official in Geneva has again dismissed the contents of a letter sent to the United States by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna and the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, says the 18-page letter Iran's president sent to President Bush does not deal with the basic concerns of the international community.

Schulte says Iran remains defiant and determined to pursue an atomic weapons capability regardless of its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"We do not need lengthy letters from Iran's president," he said. "What we need is a decision on his part and on the part of the leadership in Iran to negotiate seriously, to take up the diplomatic offers that are on the table from the EU-3 and from Russia. And to do this, they need to suspend the activities that are giving the international community such concern and they need to start cooperating fully with the IAEA."

Ambassador Schulte says President Bush is not seeking a military solution to Iran's nuclear weapons program, the goal is to achieve a diplomatic settlement.

He says the United States does not want the U.N. Security Council to apply sanctions against Iran right now. He says sanctions might come into play in a few months if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

He says the United States and Europe are united in their determination to stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. He says Russia and China also support that objective.

"There is a strong consensus that Iran is going down a path that is not acceptable, that Iran needs to get off this path and that we need to achieve a diplomatic solution," he added. "So, I think actually that the engagement of Russia and China on this has been absolutely key in demonstrating to Iran that they are isolating themselves and that the course they are taking is not a course they should continue to pursue."

Schulte says he does not take Iran's threat of pulling out of the non-proliferation treaty seriously. He says Iran is good at issuing threats, but rarely carries them out.

He says Iranian threats only serve to scare foreign capital and foreign investors away. And this he says, hurts the Iranian economy and the Iranian people.