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Clinton: Iranian Diplomatic Window Not 'Infinite'

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton says the diplomatic track with Iran isn't 'infinite' as Iran continues to hem-and-haw over talks.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/5/2012, 2:40 PM

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Reuters

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said the diplomatic track for dealing with Iran's nuclear program is not "infinite".

"We want to see a peaceful resolution of the international community's concerns, but the time for diplomacy is not infinite and all options remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," Clinton said/.

"Until Iran comes into compliance with its international obligations and demonstrates the peaceful intent of its nuclear program, they will continue to face strong pressure and isolation," she said.

"So the sooner that we begin talks, the better it will be," Clinton advised Terhan, adding that EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is still consulting with Iran on the time and venues of resumed nuclear dialog with Iran.

Clinton was referring to expected nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – which were to be slated for April.

On Saturday, Clinton had said the P5+1 and Iran had agreed on meeting in Turkey's Istanbul April 13. However, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Wednesday that China and Iraq are also considered by Tehran as the venues for the talks.

The United States, its Western and Gulf Arab allies, and Israel charge that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, however, has produced two reports in recent months indicating Iran has sought - and continues to seek - nuclear weapons technology with military applications.

It has also cited systemic obstruction of its inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities in direct contravention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory.

Clinton's remarks came just days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the sanctions and diplomacy approach to Iran's nuclear program favored by the Obama administration and its European allies was not working.

The prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites has kept international tensions – and tensions between Jerusalem and Washington – at a low boil. But some analysts say only a credible military threat can bring Iran to the table.

In March, a key advisor to Ayatollah Ali Khameni said the West should accept Iran's "peaceful nuclear program," sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assistance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.

In return for cooperation from the West Iran would offer "full transparency," Mohammad Javad Larijani said.

Larijani did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.