Rice: S. C. Credibility in Question if it Doesn't Act on Iran
Anne Gearan, Casper Star Tribune:
The credibility of the U.N. Security Council will be in doubt if it does not take clear-cut action against Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday. Rice made her remarks four days before the expiration of a United Nations deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment. That process can produce fuel for nuclear reactions or material for nuclear weapons. READ MORE
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, has accused Iran of failing to answer questions about its nuclear program. In late March, it reported Tehran to the Security Council and gave it one month to address the demands.
"When the international community reconvenes after the 30 days, there has to be some message, clear message, that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, or you will start to call into question the credibility of what the Security Council says when it says it," Rice said while flying to diplomatic visits to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Though the United States has said it prefers decisive steps, Security Council members Russia and China have opposed forceful sanctions. As permanent members of the council, either of those countries could veto any proposals.
"We'll continue to discuss this with the Russians and with others, but I expect that we're going to have to have some kind of action by the Security Council that demonstrates that this is a serious matter," Rice said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated Monday that Iran might withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on nuclear activities, and he predicted the Security Council would not impose sanctions on his country.
Meanwhile, a leading German legislator said the United States should delay "for some time" any U.N. Security Council action on Iran and talk directly to Tehran about its security concerns.
"We have time to be patient," Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the international relations committee of the German Bundestag, said before meetings in Washington with Undersecretary of State Nichols Burns and Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council.
In the meantime, Polenz said, Russia could explore expressions of renewed interest by Iran in joint enrichment of uranium on Russian territory. The Russian proposal has U.S. and European support as a way to make sure Iran does not use enriched uranium for weapons development.
Nor, he said, would it be "a bad idea" for the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency to resume its review of Iran's nuclear activities.
By contrast, a State Department spokesman was skeptical that Iran really was interested in the Russian proposal.
"One day they will say there is a deal and the other day they will say there is no deal, and then they will say there is one -- only on their terms," spokesman Adam Ereli said.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the watchdog group, is due to report to the Security Council by the end of the week on Iran's nuclear activities, which Iran says are entirely peaceful in purpose.
Next week, U.S., British, French, Chinese, Russian and German officials will meet "to consider the next steps that we should take in response to what we expect to be a negative report," Ereli said.
AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid in Washington contributed to this report.