Rice: Iran Not Serious at Nuke Talks

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CBNNews.com - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iran was not serious at weekend talks about its nuclear program -- despite the presence of a senior U.S. Diplomat. As a result, Iran may face new sanctions.

Rice said all six nations were serious during talks in Switzerland about a two-week deadline Iran has to meet or face being hit with new penalties.

However, when the time came for Iran to respond to the plan, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a "meandering" monologue full of irrelevant "small talk about culture that appeared to annoy many of the others present at the table in Geneva, according to Rice.

"We expected to hear an answer from the Iranians but, as has been the case so many times with the Iranians, what came through was not serious," Rice said. "It's time for the Iranians to give a serious answer."

"They can't go and stall and make small talk about culture, they have to make a decision," she said. "People are tired of the Iranians and their stalling tactics."

Rice said that Iran has two weeks to respond positively or it can expect more sanctions from the U.S. and EU in addition to a fourth sanctions resolution from the U.N.

"We will see what Iran does in two weeks, but I think the diplomatic process now has a new kind of energy to it," she said. "If they do not decide to suspend then we will be in a situation where we have to return to the Security Council."

Rice acknowledged that a tactical change to demonstrate unity with the other five powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- may have confused the Iranians.

"From time to time, it is important to invigorate the diplomacy," she said. "I think that the fact that we went may have been a bit surprising to the Iranians, and they didn't react in a way that gave anyone any confidence."

In a departure from past policy, Washington sent the State Department's No. 3 diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, to show Iran the seriousness of this plan.

The offer envisions a six-week commitment from Iran to stop expanding enrichment, during which time no additional sanctions would be imposed.

The move was intended to create the framework for formal negotiations that will lead to a permanent halt of enrichment.

But the Iranian delegation said on Saturday there was "no chance" Iran would suspend uranium enrichment. At the weekend talks, Jalili avoided the suspension issue entirely.

Source: The Associated Press

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