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U.S. Leaders on Iranian Nukes

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

Democratic and Republican officials in the United States agree that Iran needs to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Senator Joseph Biden is the senior Democratic member of the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee. Mr. Biden met recently with Iran's Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. According to news reports, Mr. Biden told Mr. Kharrazi that both liberal and conservative U.S. politicians believe "that it is not in our interest…for you to acquire nuclear capability for nuclear weapons and intermediate or long-range missile technology."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the United States is in close contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union, and that all have the same message for the Iranian government:

"They cannot be part of the international system and pursue a nuclear weapon at the same time. . . .An Iran that is nuclear-armed is, of course, going to be a force for instability in that region and all kinds of things are possible if Iran gets to a nuclear device that is usable. That's why we have focused so on the diplomacy, focused so on unifying the world around this theme, focused so on getting the Russians and others to recognize that even civilian nuclear engagement, civilian nuclear programs with the Iranians, have proliferation risks."

Iran agreed in mid-November 2004 to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities while it negotiated a long-term agreement on its nuclear program with France, Germany, and Britain. But Iran has said that it may start enriching uranium again in a few months. Enriched uranium is a key element in the production of nuclear weapons. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that the United States supports the efforts of France, Germany, and Britain. "There's no doubt about our support for this diplomatic solution," Mr. Boucher said. "The President [George W. Bush] has made that very, very clear. But at the same time," said Mr. Boucher, "in no situation do we take options off the table."