US Aims to Focus on Nuclear Issue in Iran Talks
By VOA News
12 September 2009
The United States says it plans to focus on Iran's nuclear program in upcoming talks with Tehran, despite Iran's refusal to discuss the subject.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says Iran has a responsibility to walk away from what he described as its "illicit nuclear weapons program." He says that is what the U.S. goal will be in negotiations with Iran.
On Friday, the United States and other world powers accepted Iran's new offer to hold talks, even though Tehran said it will not negotiate on its nuclear program.
Iranian officials say they are pleased the U.S. and other world powers accepted the offer. But Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Iran will not compromise on its "inalienable right."
Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor says "the clock is ticking" for getting Iran to halt nuclear projects with bomb-making potential.
In an exclusive interview with the Reuters news agency, Meridor said, however, a combination of tough political and economic action may get Iran to listen to reason. He said he does not think Iranian leaders are "irrational."
Israel says a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence and has not ruled out a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
On Wednesday, Iran presented new proposals for talks to representatives of six world powers and the European Union. The U.S. State Department said the proposals were "disappointing" for bypassing Iran's nuclear program, but that they represented a chance for serious talks.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, or fuel for nuclear reactors.
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of working to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes - mainly to develop energy.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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