U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it is time for Iran to be held to account for what she said is that country's "pursuit of nuclear weapons." Clinton spoke at a forum on U.S.-Islamic relations in Doha, Qatar, where that Gulf states' prime minister urged more efforts at dialogue with Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flatly declared at the Doha forum that Iran is seeking a nuclear-weapons capability, despite its professions of peaceful intent.
She said Iran's defiance of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and refusal to respond seriously to outreach efforts by the United States and others leaves the world community with little choice, but to impose greater costs for what she termed its "provocative steps."
Clinton shared the podium at the seventh annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum with Qatar's Prime and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who said Gulf states share U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program, but the issue requires more dialogue and, in particular, direct U.S.-Iranian talks. "I believe we cannot talk through messengers in my opinion. I think this problem has to be taken up with the Iranians directly and try to see if we have a deal or we do not have deal on this. Of course if there is a nuclear race in the region, it is disturbing for us," he said.
Clinton said she shared the Qatari prime minister's concerns about regional instability generated by the Iranian nuclear program and that it is time to hold Tehran to account. "I certainly welcome any meaningful engagement. But we do not want to be engaging while they are building their bomb. And therefore we think the time has come for the world community to take a position which perhaps will penetrate into all of the decision-making arenas that exist now within Iran and cause some reconsideration," she said.
Clinton said Russia has told the United States both publicly and privately that it "can and will" support new U.N. sanctions against Iran.
She said while China "has questions" about the utility of additional sanctions, it has not in any way rejected the idea or impeded work she indicated is already under way on a sanctions resolution.
Officials traveling with Clinton say the United States is talking with Saudi Arabia, where Clinton visits Monday, about the idea of boosting oil shipments to China in the event Iran halted sales to Beijing if it backed a new U.N. resolution.
They suggest Saudi Arabia is amenable to the idea, provided China gives assurances it will join a consensus for sanctions.
In her address, Clinton stressed the Obama administration's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and acknowledged frustration over the lack of evident progress in efforts by U.S. envoy George Mitchell to restart negotiations. "I know people are disappointed that we have not yet achieved a break-through. The President, Senator Mitchell and I are also disappointed. But we must remember that neither the United States nor any country can force a solution. The parties themselves must resolve their differences through negotiations," she said.
Clinton told the largely-Arab audience the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements, but also wants the Palestinians to end anti-Israeli incitement and improve security.
Prime Minister el-Thani faulted the international community for not seeking the immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and warned that such policies strengthen, not undermine, the grip on power there by the radical Hamas movement.