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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

10 May 2006

Iran Can Chose Confrontation or Cooperation, Says United States

Ambassador Schulte urges nations to help Iran resolve nuclear standoff

By David I. McKeeby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The international community must convince the Iranian regime to choose cooperation over confrontation in resolving the ongoing standoff over its nuclear program, says Ambassador Gregory Schulte.

In a May 9 speech at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland, Schulte, the U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations’ mission in Vienna, Austria, said, “This determined pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability by the dangerous regime in Tehran threatens Iran’s neighbors and the wider world community.”

Schulte delivered his speech as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in New York with the foreign ministers from the U.N. Security Council’s four other permanent members -- China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom -- and those from Germany and the European Union to chart a long-term strategy to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions.  (See related article.)

IRAN’S NUCLEAR CLAIMS MISLEADING

According to the IAEA’s April 28 report on Iran, Schulte said, instead of honoring the international community’s repeated requests to suspend its nuclear program and return to negotiations, 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.

The IAEA report severely undermines the Iranian regime's repeated claims that its nuclear program is geared solely toward the development of civilian nuclear energy, Schulte said.

“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 rhetorically.

Schulte discounted Iran’s claim that it needs enriched uranium for civilian power plants, pointing out that Iran’s sole nuclear power plant in Bushehr already is slated to receive fuel from Russia under a long-term contract, and that many other countries that use nuclear energy to generate electricity purchase enriched uranium instead of processing it themselves.

CONSENSUS GROWING ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

Schulte said Iran has refused to comply with even a single request from the U.N. Security Council since it called on the Iranian government in March to suspend nuclear activities and re-establish cooperation with IAEA monitors.  (See related article.)

The ambassador noted that the IAEA’s February vote that referred Iran to the Security Council reflected a broad global consensus on the threat posed by Iran.  Countries as diverse as Russia, China, India, Argentina, Brazil Sri Lanka, Ghana, Japan, Korea, Australia, Ecuador, Columbia, Canada, Egypt and Yemen all supported the measure, which expressed concern about Iran’s continuing refusal to cooperate with international nuclear inspectors.

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, he said.  (See related article.)

Continued instability caused by the regime’s “outrageous statements and defiant behavior” have already led to tangible economic effects, said Schulte, noting that leading major international banks, investors and multinational corporations have already reconsidered doing business with Iran.  Even officials from across the Iranian political spectrum have started questioning the regime’s course of action, he added.

UNITED STATES 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.

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.)

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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