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Iran Squanders An Opportunity

Iran is squandering the opportunity to achieve the benefits it claims it needs from its nuclear program, says U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey:

“If Iran would simply choose to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, then the United States, as well as Russia, as well as the other members of the P-5 plus one [countries], would sit down with the Iranian government and negotiate a solution to these issues – one that would allow the Iranian people to have civilian nuclear power, but that would assure the rest of us that they weren’t, in fact, using that program as a cover for a nuclear weapon.”

Instead, says Mr. Casey, Iran is defying two U.N. Security Council resolutions that require Tehran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related, reprocessing, and heavy water-related activities. The result is that representatives of the P5 plus one countries – Britain, France, China, Russia, the U.S., and Germany – are working on the text of a third Security Council resolution that would impose additional sanctions on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that Iran’s pursuit of technology that can give Tehran the ability to build nuclear weapons is a matter of worldwide concern. She has further stated that the purpose of a new Security Council resolution is to persuade Iran – through diplomatic means -- to change course:

“To convince Iran that the best way to achieve its stated goal of civil nuclear power is to engage in negotiations, to do so from the basis that is required of it in two Security Council Chapter Seven resolutions and an I.A.E.A. [International Atomic Energy Agency] Board of Governors resolution -- and that is, to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing capability, come to the negotiating table."

"At that point," says Secretary of State Rice, the United States "would reverse twenty-eight years of American policy and engage fully in discussions with Iran and with our colleagues about anything that Iran wishes to put on the table.”