Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rice Skeptical of Iran's Motives

Elise Labott, CNN News:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed skepticism that Iran is serious about suspending its uranium enrichment program and said the United States expects to "make some movement forward" on a sanctions resolution when U.N. diplomats convene in New York next week.

Rice said the cancellation of a meeting scheduled Thursday between the Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, "should tell us something." READ MORE

"We have always believed that the path was very clear for the Iranians -- suspend and go down the path of negotiation, or the international community would go down the path of the Security Council," Rice told reporters Wednesday after a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Washington.

"It's quite clear we're on the path of the Security Council."

On Thursday, however, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he was open to what he called new conditions to resolve his country's standoff with the West over its nuclear program, according to a report from the Reuters news service.

"We are partisan to dialogue and negotiation and we believe that we can resolve the problems in a context of dialogue and of justice together," Ahmadinejad said in Senegal's capital, Dakar, according to Reuters.

"I am announcing that we are available, we are ready for new conditions," he said before leaving to fly to a Non-Aligned summit in Cuba. Ahmadinejad was speaking through a translator, Reuters reported.

The U.N. Security Council demanded that Iran suspend it uranium enrichment program by August 31 or face the possibility of economic sanctions. Iran missed that deadline but has said it would consider temporarily suspending its program as a condition for beginning talks with the United States.

"If the Iranians wish to suspend and begin negotiations, obviously that would be a good thing," Rice said.

"But given that they canceled the meeting (with Solana), I don't really know that that option is available."

Rice said that diplomats from the five permanent members of the Security Council, along with Germany, would meet during next week's General Assembly session in New York to consult about a sanctions resolution.

"We have to decide what the text will look like," she said.

Appearing with Rice, Livni said Israel expects the international community to "show more determination on this issue and an understanding that this is not a threat to Israel but a threat to the entire free world."

"I think that there is an understanding. But now, let's see what happens next," Livni said.