Thursday, September 15, 2005

U.S. Ready to Delay Showdown on Iran

Barry Schweid, The Associated Press:
Apparently lacking the votes to win, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice indicated Wednesday the Bush administration was prepared to delay again a showdown with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Describing efforts to constrain Iran from producing nuclear weapons, Rice said "the world is not perfect in international politics. You cannot always get a 100 percent solution." READ MORE

Rice last week appealed openly to China, Russia, India and other nations to support threatening Iran with sanctions for refusing to halt its nuclear program.

"Iran needs to get a message from the international community that is a unified message," Rice said Friday at a news conference.

But Russia quickly registered its opposition to trying to impose sanctions now on Iran in the U.N. Security Council, and the White House acknowledged Wednesday that President Bush was unable to get a commitment from Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, urged the U.N. not to bend to U.S. pressure.

"The raison d'etre of the United Nations is to promote global peace and tranquility," he told the General Assembly. "Therefore, any license for pre-emptive measures which are essentially based on gauging intentions rather than objective facts ... is a blatant contradiction to the very foundation of the United Nations and the letter and the spirit of its charter."

The Bush administration had been expected to turn to the U.N. Security Council to pressure Iran to resume negotiations with the European Union after the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency meets next Monday.

But in an interview Wednesday with the Fox News Editorial Board, Rice took a step backward.

"I am not so concerned about exactly when it happens," Rice said, "because I don't think this matter is so urgent that it has to come on Sept. 19."

She said the goal now was mostly to send a "political message" to Iran that it that it just cannot break out of a commitment not to engage in nuclear weapons preparations "and have everybody say, well, OK."

The problem, she said, is there was a "lot of consensus" on the goal of having negotiations with the European Union resume. But, she said, there was "a lot of difference about tactics."

The European Union has taken the lead in trying to persuade Iran to halt development of nuclear weapons in exchange for economic concessions. But Rice said "the question is, how much support can you bring that is non-European support."

"That's really more the issue," she said.