US to keep pressuring Iran over nuclear program

Date: 9/20/2010

By VERONIKA OLEKSYN (AP) – Sep 20, 2010

VIENNA – The United States will continue to pressure Iran to meet its international commitments and come clean about its nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said Monday.

Iran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop uranium enrichment and ignoring other demands meant to ease global concern that it is seeking to make atomic weapons.

Last week, Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he cannot confirm that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful, as Tehran claims, because the country has offered only selective cooperation to the U.N. watchdog and has rejected several inspectors.

"Iran must do what it has thus far failed to do – meet its obligations and ensure the rest of the world of the peaceful nature of its intentions," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told delegates gathered in Vienna for the IAEA'S annual General Conference.

While Washington remained committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution, Chu said it was clear there was a "broad and growing international consensus that will hold Iran accountable if it continues its defiance.

"We will continue to pressure the Iranian government to fulfill its international commitments," Chu said.

Washington's strong words followed similar comments by the European Union.

Paul Magnette of Belgium, whose country currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said the EU urges Iran to address the IAEA's outstanding concerns and to meet with members of the international community "with the ultimate goal of establishing a comprehensive relationship."

Meanwhile, the head of Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the IAEA was suffering from a "moral authority, and credibility, crisis."

"Certainly, the uncivilized double track approach of threat and dialogue ... cannot be conducive and fruitful," he added.

IAEA chief Amano said North Korea's nuclear program remains "a matter of serious concern" and efforts should be made to resume talks on the matter.

The autocratic Asian state has not permitted the Vienna–based watchdog to implement safeguards in the country since December 2002 and no inspectors have been allowed in since April, making it impossible to report to the international community about its atomic activities, Amano said.

North Korea walked out of international talks on restarting negotiations on its nuclear disarmament last year to protest international criticism of a long–range rocket launch.

"I again call on all parties concerned to make concerted efforts for a resumption of the six–party talks at an appropriate time," Amano said.

Amano also mentioned the failure of Iran and Syria to fully comply with his agency.

"My basic approach has been that all safeguards agreements between member states and the agency and other relevant obligations should be implemented fully," he said.





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