The State Department says Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki had nothing new to offer on the country's nuclear program at an unusual dinner meeting with U.N. Security Council diplomats in New York late Thursday. A U.S. delegate who attended raised the case of three American hikers detained in Iran.
The gesture by the Iranian foreign minister was widely seen as an effort to deflect pressure in the Security Council for a new sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program.
But State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley says the dinner, attended by U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff did nothing to ease concerns about Iran's nuclear intentions. "We literally heard nothing new. They are not in compliance with their IAEA obligations. They have not come forward with a meaningful and acceptable counter- proposal on the TRR (Tehran Research Reactor), something that we had offered last fall in order to build confidence. Ambassador Wolff and others made clear last night that they had the opportunity to build confidence, and their actions and words since then have done exactly the opposite," he said.
The five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany last November offered to reprocess low-enriched uranium from Iran into higher-grade fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
The plan, under which Iran would have exported much of its enriched-uranium stockpile, would have eased concerns by the United States and others that its enrichment program is weapons related.
But Iran, after first accepting the plan in principle, has offered varying counter-proposals that would allow its enrichment drive to continue.
The veto wielding permanent Security Council member states, the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, are negotiating what would be a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran because of its nuclear stance.
Spokesman Crowley said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a conference call with U.S. European allies on the sanctions effort Friday but said news reports that a draft resolution would be formally presented next week were incorrect.
Crowley confirmed that American U.N. envoy Wolff had a brief discussion with Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki at the Thursday dinner, a rare interaction between the two countries, which have not had formal relations in three decades.
He said Wolff passed on to Mottaki letters from the families of three American hikers detained by Iran since straying into Iranian territory from northern Iraq nine months ago.
The United States has repeatedly urged their release on humanitarian grounds. Crowley declined to characterize the Iranian official's response to the gesture by the U.S. diplomat. Officials said a similar letter, from the family of Robert Levinson,a retired U.S. FBI agent missing in Iran since 2007, was also given to Mottaki.