West warns Iran: Time for negotiations running out

Western diplomats at UN Security Council wag finger at Iran but fail to set red lines over the country's illicit nuclear program.

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September 20, 2012 19:35
2 minute read.
The United Nations Security Council [file]

UN Security Council_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The US, Britain and France all warned Iran in the Security Council on Thursday that time was running out for negotiations over its nuclear program, but stopped short of drawing the red lines that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has demanded.

The West “will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results,” AFP quoted US Ambassador Susan Rice as saying at a Security Council meeting on Iran sanctions.

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“We must therefore remain clear and united in seeking resolution of the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program... Time is wasting.”

Three rounds of negotiations since April between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – have led nowhere.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud said that while the West was asking Iran to negotiate, “Iran is not negotiating.”

Rice, in an NBC interview on Sunday, came out against setting red lines, saying the US “bottom line” is that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon “and we will take no option off the table to ensure that it does not acquire a nuclear weapon, including the military option.”

In that interview, Rice said there was still “time and space for the pressure we are mounting, which is unprecedented in terms of sanctions, to still yield results.”

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Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant told the Security Council that Iran was “at a crossroads,” and that it must decide “soon” whether or not it wants to be a responsible member of the international community.

“It can support the oppressive regime in Syria in suppressing freedom, or it can play a constructive role in its region. It can be an exporter of terrorism or a responsible member of the international community. But it must make these choices soon,” Lyall Grant said, without setting any deadline.

Lyall Grant’s comments came shortly after the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, admitted to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that his country was putting out misinformation to counter British spying.

Abbasi-Davani said in the interview that Iran falsified information to mislead foreign intelligence agencies such as MI6 “in order to protect our nuclear sites” and Iran’s economic interests.

“Sometimes we show weaknesses where we are not weak.

Sometimes we show strengths where we are not strong. Later this became evident in talks with the IAEA,” he said, claiming that Iranian misinformation had made its way into discussions of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

One Israeli official said that Jerusalem had no doubt that the Iranians have adopted a deliberate policy of deceiving the international community for more than a decade.

“Their deception is well known,” the official said, adding that what came as a surprise was Abbasi-Davani’s candid admission.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrived in New York Thursday evening on the tail end of a semi-private Rosh Hashana visit to the US where he reportedly met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to US President Barack Obama.

Barak is expected to hold a number of meetings in New York with leaders coming to the city to take part in the UN General Assembly meeting. Obama will deliver his address to the UN on Tuesday, and Netanyahu will speak to the body on Thursday.

While Netanyahu and Obama will miss each other in New York, it was not immediately clear whether a meeting might be arranged between Obama and Barak.

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