U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Iranian government failed to give a serious answer to an offer put together by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, the P5 plus 1, over Iran’s nuclear program. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, along with diplomats from Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States held a meeting in Geneva on July 19th to hear Iran's reply to an updated benefits package.
The package, offered to Iran in June, was put together by the P5 plus 1. The package offers negotiations and a generous set of incentives that could accrue to Iran, if Iran fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Such activities can lead to the production of nuclear weapons.
After the inconclusive meeting on July 19th, Iran was given a two-week deadline to respond fully to the incentives proposal. Secretary of State Rice said it was made plain to the Iranian representatives that "people are tired of ... their stalling tactics."
Ms. Rice said the Geneva meeting was beneficial because it helped clarify Iran's choices. One of those choices is the possibility of benefits and negotiation; the other, the possibility of additional punitive measures. The Security Council has already imposed three rounds of economic sanctions against Iran, and the United States, the European Union, and others have imposed additional restrictions of their own.
In an interview on Fox News, America's top military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was encouraged that the international community was engaged in diplomatic efforts to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons:
"I believe that the international community needs to continue to bring pressure on Iran both economically, financially, diplomatically, politically to continue to bring them to a point were we can all deal with this issue of nuclear weapons."
Admiral Mullen says he believes that Iran's leaders are "on a path to achieve nuclear weapons some time in the future. ... That's a very destabilizing possibility," he said. "We need to figure out a way to ensure that that doesn't happen."