US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran's
nuclear program and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear
weapon would resume in mid-April.
With speculation over a possible US or Israel
adding urgency to the next round of discussions in Istanbul set for April 13, Clinton said Iran's "window of opportunity" for a peaceful resolution "will not remain open forever."
She also expressed doubt about whether Iran has any intention of negotiating a solution that satisfies the US, Israel and other countries that believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran contends the program is solely for peaceful energy and research purposes.
"We're going in with one intention: to resolve the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program," Clinton told reporters after attending a security conference in Saudi Arabia.
"Our policy is one of prevention, not containment. We are determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," America's top diplomat said.
Hillary Clinton at security conference in Saudi Arabia (Photo: EPA)
"We enter into these talks with a sober perspective about Iran's intentions. It is incumbent upon Iran to demonstrate by its actions that it is a willing partner and to participate in these negotiations with an effort to obtain concrete results."
Her remarks followed President Barack Obama's announcement
Friday that the US was moving ahead with penalties aimed at depriving Iran of oil revenue, while also working with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states to ensure ample global petroleum supplies.
Clinton prodded Gulf governments to develop a coordinated defense strategy against Iranian missiles. With tensions rising in the region, she said American and Gulf militaries should cooperate to improve maritime security as well.
Underscoring the limits of US-Gulf cooperation, however, US officials confirmed Saturday that the United Arab Emirates had shut down an American-funded democracy group, following similar Emirates action against a German organization this past week.
Discussions also covered ways to pressure Syrian
President Bashar Assad
to end a year of bloodshed
from the uprising against his rule, but the focus was on Iran.
"It soon will be clear whether Iran's leaders are prepared to have a serious, credible discussion about their nuclear program, whether they are ready to start building the basis of a resolution to this very serious problem," Clinton said. "It is up to Iran whether they are ready to make the right choice. ... What is certain is that Iran's window of opportunity to seek and obtain a peaceful resolution will not remain open forever."
She said pressure from the economic penalties and international isolation was increasing on Iran to show it is serious about satisfying the world's concerns.
Iran and the six nations involved in the negotiations— the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia
and China —
met in Istanbul 14 months ago. But the talks ended after two days with the sides unable to even agree on what to talk about.
Iran has used past talks to delay sanctions or try to divide the international front, while pressing ahead with its nuclear program.
Obama has underlined the need to give time for diplomacy alongside penalties. He said Friday that the US. would move ahead with potential measures against US. allies and other countries that keep buying Iranian oil. It was the latest step in the campaign to starve Iran of money for its nuclear activity.
Yitzhak Benhorin, in Washington, contributed to this report
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