Despite the fact the President Barack H. Obama spoke Friday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by phone, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that there was “every reason” to doubt Iran's "peaceful intentions."
In what some observers said was an attempt by the administration to quell Israeli and Saudi concerns that the U.S. was prepared to make concessions to Iran on its nuclear program, Rice said that Obama chose his words carefully in his UN speech last week. Iran, he said, had the right to “use” enriched uranium, but not to enrich it themselves – and the enriched uranium it had a right to use would be enriched at a far lower level that could be used to manufacture weapons.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly and in media interviews last week, Rouhani said that he wanted to come to an agreement with the U.S. on the nuclear issue in a matter of months. Rice also expressed doubts that this would happen.
“It’s way too soon to presume either the prospect of an agreement on the nuclear program, which we hope to be able to achieve, but we’re quite sober about the potential for that,” Rice said. “If we could have a peaceful resolution of the nuclear program and an end to Iran’s support for terrorism and other behavior that has concerned us over many years, then we could begin a serious discussion about the future.”
Rice said that at a meeting of Western foreign ministers with Iranian officials last week, Rice said that Iran told the foreign ministers of the permanent members of the UN Security Council that Iran had promised that it was seeking nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons.
“We stressed that Iran had to fulfill its obligations to the international community, and that sanctions would remain in place until they did. The Iranians expressed a desire to achieve nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We and others in the international community have every reason to be skeptical of that and we need to test it, and any agreement must be fully verifiable and enforceable,” she said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived in the U.S. late Sunday in preparation for his appearance at the UN Tuesday. Netanyahu plans to tell the United Nations General Assembly that Iran has enough uranium to produce nuclear weapons, according to the Sunday Times. An unnamed senior Israeli official was quoted as having told the newspaper that Netanyahu will say in his speech on Tuesday that Iran currently has 219 kilograms (482 pounds) of enriched uranium, which is enough to produce a nuclear weapon.
As he left for New York overnight Saturday, Netanyahu promised “to tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and charm offensive of Iran.”
"Telling the truth at this time is essential for world peace and security and, of course, for Israel's security," noted Netanyahu.
In his UN address, Rouhani said that "nuclear weapons... have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine." He claimed that Iran poses a threat to no one.