Thursday, February 23, 2006

US accuses Iran of double talk in nuclear row

The United States accused Iran of engaging in double talk over its controversial nuclear program, AFP reported.

"There are a lot of statements made by different Iranian officials every day that seem to contradict one another," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

"I think all of this will be considered in deliberate fashion by the (International Atomic Energy Agency's) Board of Governors when they get a comprehensive report from the director general on March 6, and then we'll look at it in the Security Council," he said. READ MORE

Ereli was responding to a statement Thursday by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki that Tehran was ready to compromise in talks with Russia over a resolution to the nuclear crisis provided certain conditions are met.

Russia is proposing that Iran enrich uranium, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle, at a site on Russian territory in a bid to break the deadlock over the crisis.

But talks with Iran were making little progress, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

The IAEA board of governors meet on March 6 in Vienna with the outcome liable to determine how the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, responds.

The IAEA on February 4 voted to report Iran to the Security Council, but left a one-month window for diplomacy.

Iran's defiant resumption of uranium enrichment activities intensified Western accusations that Iran is using its civilian nuclear energy program as cover for weapons development. Tehran insists its atomic drive is peaceful.

Ereli also said there were no plans for the United States to be involved directly with the Europeans in talks with Iran.

Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer and former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski on Wednesday suggested that Washington become more directly engaged in the talks.

"We're comfortable with the approach that we've got now, with our close coordination with the EU-3, with the Russians, with the Chinese, with the Indians," Ereli said.

The European Union, represented by Britain, France and Germany, broke off a dialogue with Iran after Tehran, in defiance of IAEA wishes, moved to resume its uranium enrichment activities.

Ereli said the current approach to handling the crisis had led to a strengthening of international consensus against Iran.

"I think you've seen over the course of the last several months a broadening and strengthening of the international consensus with regard to Iran's nuclear program and the threat that it poses.

"And that's a result of consistent and well-thought-out diplomacy on our part, and we're comfortable with where we are," he said.