Thursday, January 19, 2006

‘Iran is the most serious issue before the world’

Rang De Basanti, Economic Times:
The United States expects the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran’s clandestine nuclear programme issue to the United Nations’ Security Council. According to Nicholas Burns, the US under secretary of state for political affairs, currently on a tour to India, all the major nations seems to be near a consensus on the Iran issue.

Everybody wants Iran to listen to the international community, he said. France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia and the US have agreed to hold an emergency two-day meeting of the IAEA board on Iran’s nuclear programme, starting February 2. Mr Burns represented the US in informal talks with the other five countries. The talks were held in London.

This is the most serious issue before the world. There is a great deal of frustration in the international community because of Iran’s decision to resume uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities,” he said. According to him, All of us have agreed to take up the issue with IAEA which eventually can refer to the issue to the UN Security Council.” READ MORE

He further said, ‘’What all parties agreed is that the regime’s actions raise serious issues and that it should return to the suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing activity.’’

Mr Burns preferred to be evasive when asked what option the US has in the event of Iran refusing to come to the negotiating table.We haven’t left the diplomacy entirely behind. It’s a new phase in it,” he said. About whether Russia and China are supporting Washington’s plans on Iran, he said, “There are some differences. But there is a broad consensus that Iran should suspend its enrichment facility.”

He has not direct answer either to the fate of the Indo-Iran pipeline. Instead, he appealed to all countries to think seriously about the sort of relationship they want to have with Tehran. Iran is a major issue, he said.All of us need to think about our relationship with it.” On the recent Indo-US understanding on atomic energy, Mr Burns admitted that separating the atomic energy plants into civilian and military units is an “enormous task.

The task is extremely challenging and complex, but we hope to achieve a breakthrough before the US President George Bush’s proposed visit to India,” he said. “This is the commitment both of us have agreed to on July 18, ‘05 when the PM Manmohan Singh was in the US.”

The “global engine of development”, that’s how Mr Burns described Indo-US relations.The India and US share absolutely a unique alliance,” he said. “Last year’s understanding (on nuclear power) is a very special diplomatic venture. We are talking issues we haven’t talked in the last 30 years.” Mr Burns’ next stop is Delhi, where he will meet his counterpart and other senior officials. In Mumbai he met some top industrialists.