Crowley: 'Pressure is having an impact' on Iran

US State Department spokesman says two-track strategy to be used toward Teheran: Engagement, but continuation of pressure.

January 22, 2011 03:58
Iranian nuclear delegate Abolfazl Zohrevand

Iranian nuclear delegate Abolfazl Zohrevand 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The US is willing to engage Iran, but is putting international pressure on the Iranian Government at the same time, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Friday after talks with Teheran ended with little progress.

During a press briefing in Washington, Crowley stated that the US is pursuing a "two-track strategy" toward Iran:


Teheran is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to cease enrichment and other activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Iranians must "show in these negotiations that they are prepared to discuss the whole of their nuclear program."

But Iran came to Istanbul warning it was in no mood to compromise.

"Resolutions, sanctions, threats, computer virus nor even a military attack will stop uranium enrichment in Iran," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Iranian state TV.

He was alluding to UN sanctions imposed on Iran, apparent damage to the enrichment program due to the Stuxnet malware virus — thought to have been created by Israel or the US — and threats of possible military action by Israel or the US if Iran remains defiant.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton is tasked by the six powers to urge the Iranian side to recognize the need to discuss international concerns about Iran's nuclear program and perhaps renew a 2008 offer providing Iran with technical support for peaceful nuclear activities as well as trade and other incentives in exchange for focusing on its atomic program.

Diplomats were also watching to see if Jalili would meet US counterpart William Burns in a bilateral meeting — something the Iranians refused to do in Geneva. Crowley said that did not happen Friday — despite a series of one-on-ones between the Iranian team and other delegations — but did not say if such an encounter was possible Saturday.

The nuclear talks were being held in the Ciragan Palace, resplendent with marble fittings, balconies and chandeliers, along the Bosporus strait, which divides Istanbul between the Asian and European continents. Fire destroyed the former Ottoman palace in the early 20th century, but the building was restored two decades ago and part of it was turned into a five-star hotel.

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