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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

04 May 2006

Iran Must Change Course in Nuclear Standoff, Says U.S. Official

Nations must convince Iran's leaders to choose cooperation over confrontation

By David I. McKeeby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – The international community must match the Iranian regime’s defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons with a determined, diplomatic strategy to convince that nation’s elite clerics to choose cooperation over confrontation, says Ambassador Gregory Schulte.

“Iran’s leaders are determined.  The rest of the world must be equally determined to defend against all aspects of the Iranian threat,” Schulte said in a May 4 speech at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Schulte, the U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations’ mission Vienna, Austria, said Iran has refused to comply with even a single request from the U.N. Security Council since it called on the Iranian government to suspend nuclear activities and re-establish cooperation with IAEA monitors in March.  (See related article.)

According to the IAEA’s April 28 report on Iran, Schulte said, the regime continues to enrich uranium, is proceeding with the construction of a heavy-water reactor that could supply weapons-grade material and continues to limit access of IAEA inspectors to key facilities.

CONSENSUS GROWING ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

The IAEA report, Schulte said, also highlights several unanswered questions that severely undermine the Iranian regime's repeated claims that its nuclear program is geared solely toward the development of civilian nuclear energy.

“If the program is peaceful, why 18 years of deceit . . . why not cooperate with the IAEA . . . why the unexplained ties to the A.Q. Kahn network . . . why does Iran possess a document on fabricating nuclear weapons components . . . why the unexplained ties to Iran’s military and its missile program?” Schulte asked.

The IAEA governing board’s vote to refer Iran to the Security Council reflects the international community’s refusal to believe Iran’s claims about its nuclear programs, Schulte said. It also illustrates a growing consensus about the security threat a nuclear-armed Iran poses regionally and to the larger international community due to its documented support of terrorism.  (See related article.)

Schulte discounted Iran’s claim that it needs enriched uranium for civilian nuclear power plants, pointing out that:

• Iran’s sole nuclear power plant, currently under construction in Bushehr, is already slated to receive fuel from Russia under a long-term contract;

• Other countries that generate a significant amount of electricity from nuclear energy, such as Sweden and South Korea, do not enrich uranium;

• Iranian leaders' claims that nuclear enrichment technology will allow them to attain energy self-sufficiency are spurious because its uranium reserves are quite small and the country is rich in oil and natural gas; and

• A large alternate energy source is readily available to Iran in the form of its massive reserves of natural gas, much of which currently are wasted.

“Instead of making Iran an international player,” Schulte said, “the leaders of Iran are making it an international pariah” through pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Continued instability caused by the regime’s “outrageous statements and defiant behavior” has had a tangible economic effect, leading major international banks, investors and multinational corporations to reconsider doing business with Iran.  Even officials from across the Iranian political spectrum have started questioning the regime’s course of action, he added.

U.S. COMMITTED TO A DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION

Schulte reiterated that the United States’ goal “remains a diplomatic solution, one in which Iran’s leaders set aside their ambitions for nuclear weapons capabilities and grasp the diplomatic opportunities offered by the world community.”

He called on Iran to reconsider a plan offered in August 2005 by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and supported by the United States and Russia. That plan would reaffirm Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy; provide assurances of fuel supplies; further Iran’s desire for expanded civilian nuclear energy; offer a new political and security relationship based on cooperation; and propose new frameworks for economic and technological cooperation.

Schulte also called on nations to continue supporting international efforts to deny the Iranian government access to nuclear materials and technologies and to strengthen cooperation with Iran’s neighbors. 

Even though the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States continue to be committed to a successful diplomatic outcome in the United Nations, Schulte said they are also considering an alternate “range of targeted sanctions” in the face of continued Iranian defiance.  (See related article.)

“For diplomacy to succeed, we must be prepared to use the full range of diplomatic tools available to the Security Council and the international community,” he said.

A transcript of Schulte’s speech is available on the Web site of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, Austria.

For more information, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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