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U.S. Still Looking for Diplomatic Strategy on Iran

Ahead of the IAEA report on Iran, U.S. clarifies it hasn't given up on the diplomatic route yet.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/4/2011, 4:13 AM

The United States said on Thursday that Iran has a credibility problem, Fox News reported.

“Iran, over many years, has been unable to demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program,” Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes was quoted as having told reporters in Cannes, France, where President Obama was attending the G20 summit.

“They’re the only treaty member of the (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) that cannot convince the International Atomic Energy Agency that their program is peaceful,” he added.

Rhodes made the comments days before the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency is due to release its report on the Iranian nuclear program.

The report, described by the U.S. earlier on Thursday as being “critical,” should help the world to determine whether Iran is “meeting its obligations” on regulating its nuclear development program.

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who discussed the matter in advance of the G20 summit, agreed “on the need to maintain the unprecedented pressure [by the international community] on Iran to meet its obligations.”

Israel’s media has been speculating over the past few days about a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program. The speculations are based on unverified claims that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been lobbying for ministerial support for the strike.

Such an attack would obviously require support from world powers, especially the U.S., but Rhodes clarified Thursday that his country has not yet given up on the diplomatic route.

“What we’re focused on is a diplomatic strategy,” he was quoted as having said, “which increases the pressure on the Iranians, through financial pressure, through economic sanctions, through diplomatic isolation.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also addressed the Iranian issue on Thursday. She told reporters that while the Obama administration does “not seek a military confrontation with Iran,” it was not closing the door on any option.

“We are going to use every means at our disposal to continue to try to increase the international pressure on Iran to meet its IAEA obligations and to come clean on its nuclear program,” Nuland was quoted by the Reuters news agency as having told reporters in Washington.