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Rice On Iran Nukes

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Iran will "not step back from our path" to resume nuclear research, despite an agreement with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, scheduled a meeting to seek clarification about what Iran intends to do, but the Iranian delegation failed to show up.

Many countries believe that Iran's clerical regime is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy program. With the support of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the E-U have offered to negotiate a long-term agreement with Iran that would give the world confidence that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons capability, and give Iran significant incentives in exchange. Iran has rejected the E-U's offer.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the resumption of nuclear research on the part of Iran's rulers would be "a serious problem to further negotiations." "They shouldn't do it," said Ms. Rice, "because it really will be a sign that they're not prepared to actually make. . . .diplomacy work":

"People want the Iranians to decide whether or not they're prepared to live with a civil-nuclear structure that does not raise proliferation risks, or not. And when it is clearer, as it is becoming clearer, that they are not prepared to do that, I think you will have a very strong consensus [by the international community] behind a different course of action."

Ms. Rice says that she expects that different course of action to be referral "at the right time" to the [United Nations] Security Council. The Security Council has the power to require Iran to take the confidence-building steps that the international community has asked Iran to take. If Iran refuses, the Council also has the authority to impose tough measures, including sanctions. Iran's rulers, says Secretary of State Rice, "are digging their own hole of isolation deeper and deeper." But she drew a sharp distinction between Iran's rulers and its people:

"Nobody wants to isolate the Iranian people. If there were ways to better engage and reach out to the Iranian people, I would love to see them. You know, soccer matches and musicians and university students and all of those things, because this is a great civilization, and these are a great people."

"They happen to have a leadership that seems…to have chosen confrontation rather than cooperation with the international system," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "It is extremely important that we send the message that this is not intended to isolate the Iranian people."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.