Saturday, October 15, 2005

US steps up pressure on Iran

BBC reports that John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has accused Iran of spending 18 years trying to develop nuclear weapons while lying about its intentions.

he said Iran wanted nuclear arms to intimidate the rest of the Middle East and possibly supply them to terrorists. He also said Iran had violated its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

"I think that the Iranians have been pursuing a nuclear weapons programme for up to 18 years. They have engaged in concealment and deception and they've engaged in threats before.

"The real issue is whether an international community is going to accept an Iran that violates its treaty commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, that lies about its programme and is determined to get nuclear weapons deliverable on ballistic missiles that it can then use to intimidate not only its own region but possibly to supply to terrorists."

Condoleezza Rice's trip to Russia

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice failed on Saturday to win Russia's support for referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council should the Islamic republic refuse to resume talks over its suspected nuclear arms programs.

Rice flew to Moscow on a surprise trip to press President Vladimir Putin to commit to backing a referral -- and the potential for international sanctions -- if Iran continues to defy the West, diplomats said.

Rice acknowledged Putin did not change his mind and she settled instead for accepting Moscow's pledge to work on coaxing Iran back to the talks with the EU over curbing its programs.

"That's fine, that's what they can do at this point and I hope that they can succeed," Rice told reporters after her talks.

"The Russians prefer to allow the negotiations and discussions with the Iranians to proceed ... without them implying that there is a specific timetable (for referral)."

... Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the IAEA, which has been investigating Iran's programs for almost three years, should be allowed longer to inspect its nuclear sites.

"We think the current situation allows us to actively work with Iran through the IAEA," he said, standing alongside Rice. "We do not see grounds for passing this (issue) to other organs."