AP: Rice Calls For 'Strong Steps' Against Iran
Rice Calls for 'Strong Steps' Against Iran
Apr 12 11:33 AM US/Eastern
By BARRY SCHWEID
AP Diplomatic Writer
Denouncing Iran's successful enrichment of uranium as unacceptable to the international community, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the U.N. Security Council must consider "strong steps" to induce Tehran to change course.
Rice also telephoned Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to ask him to reinforce demands that Iran comply with its nonproliferation requirements when he holds talks in Tehran on Friday.
While Rice took a strong line, she did not call for an emergency meeting of the Council, saying it should consider action after receiving an IAEA report by April 28. She did not elaborate on what measures the United States would support, but economic and political sanctions are under consideration.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announcing on Tuesday that his country had crossed the line into enrichment, said Iran's objectives were peaceful. Iran is said by many analysts to lack the equipment, including a nuclear reactor, to make nuclear weapons.
But Rice brushed aside suggestions Iran was far from the goal the United States and its allies suspect _ nuclear weaponry.
She said the world believes Iran has the capacity and the technology that lead to nuclear weapons. "The Security Counil will need to take into consideration this move by Iran," she said. "It will be time when it reconvenes on this case for strong steps to make certain that we maintrain the credibility of the itnernational community."
"This is not a question of Iran's right to civil nuclear power," she said while greeting President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Moasogo of Equatorial Guinea. "This is a question of, ... the world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the tehnology that could lead to a nuclear weapon."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday, "Defiant statements and actions only further isolate the regime from the rest of the world."
"This is a regime that needs to be building confidence with the international community," McClellan said. "Instead, they're moving in the wrong direction. This is a regime that has a long history of hiding its nuclear activities from the international community, and refusing to comply with its international obligations."
At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would not engage in "fantasy land" speculation about a possible U.S. attack on Iran, though he said the administration was concerned about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"The United States of America is on a diplomatic track," Rumsfeld said.