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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

22 May 2006

State's Burns Travels to London To Discuss Concerns on Iran

Under secretary also will meet with India's foreign minister, Shyam Saran

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns traveled to London May 22 for talks with key U.S. allies on diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Burns will consult individually with British, French, Russian, Chinese and German representatives on May 23 and then meet with them collectively as part of the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany on May 24.

U.S. officials “are united with our allies in what needs to be done” regarding Iran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a May 21 Meet the Press television interview.

“We’re talking about the international community’s demand that Iran change its course on the kind of nuclear program that it is pursuing and that it can, then, have certain benefits in the international system,” the secretary said.

Rice also said that the United States has not been asked by European nations to grant any security guarantees to Iran in exchange for abandonment of its nuclear program.  The suggestion that there is some kind of a “split between the United States and Europe on this is simply wrong,” she said.

During the May 22 State Department briefing, deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Iran is isolating itself by “actively defying the international community.”

And in a May 21 television interview on Fox Sunday, Rice said that Iran's overall behavior means that security assurances "are not on the table."

The Iranian regime is “a troublemaker in the international system, a central banker of terrorism,” has called for the destruction of Israel, supports Hizballah and rejectionist groups in the Palestinian territories, and is a force for instability in the Middle East, she said.

Rice said the United States and its allies want to show the Iranian government and its people that there is a way that “preserves Iran’s ability to have civil nuclear power.”  If Iran does not want to follow that path, “then we’ll have to take the other course,” she said.

While President Bush will not remove any option from the table, Rice said on Meet the Press that the goal is to resolve the situation with Iran diplomatically.  “We have many steps yet to take,” she said.

Casey said some financial institutions are re-evaluating their dealings with Iran.  They are assessing, he said, “whether they really want to be . . . doing business with a country that’s engaged in actively seeking a nuclear weapon, that’s actively defying the international community.”

Casey said Burns will listen to what the EU-3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) representatives have to say on Iran during his two days of talks in London on May 23-25.

Burns also will meet with Indian Foreign Minister Shyam Saran during his trip to discuss the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative and other leading international issues.

For more information on U.S. policies, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Limiting Nuclear Weapons.

(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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