Iran Nuclear Issue Requires International Cooperation, Says U.S.
Ambassador Schulte says nuclear proliferation threatens all nations

Posted Saturday, November 19, 2005

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Nuclear proliferation poses a threat to all nations, a top U.S. official says, and no nation -- particularly one in range of Iran’s missiles -- “can risk an Iran armed with nuclear weapons.”

Ambassador Gregory Schulte discussed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons November 17 during a speech at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria. While the United States strongly supports the peaceful use of nuclear technology, he said members of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) “have no business claiming this right if they fail, as Iran has, to respect their international obligations.”

The U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the agency's board of governors would issue its report on Iran the following week. U.S. officials will “be looking closely for progress” by Iran, he said, adding that the country’s record so far has been “somewhere between poor and sadly mixed.” The Iranian government has provided grudging cooperation even as its uranium conversion program continues.

The overriding U.S. concern is to convince Tehran’s leadership to shift off “the dangerous course” it has set, he said. If Tehran does not demonstrate progress, Schulte said a report to the U.N. Security Council would not be the end, but rather a part of the diplomatic effort.

“Rather than supplanting the IAEA effort,” the ambassador said, “the Security Council would reinforce it by calling on Iran to cooperate with the agency and to take steps the IAEA board has identified to restore confidence, and by giving the IAEA enhanced authority to investigate all Iranian weaponization efforts.”

“Some argue that Iran has a right to nuclear technology,” Schulte said. “Some also argue that there is no definite proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.” But, he stressed, while Iran has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear power, as an NPT signatory, it “does not have the right to use the pretense of a peaceful program to disguise a nuclear weapons effort.”

Any nation that threatens “death” to others, he added, “must be denied the most deadly of weapons, referring to statement from Iranian leaders about Israel and the United States.

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