US official disavows 'artificial deadlines' for action on Iran
Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, sounded less strident Friday in addressing Iran’s nuclear program than Secretary of State Clinton has.
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Rice cited Iran’s contested presidential election in June and the continuing political turmoil there as factors adding a new layer to US and international deliberations on Tehran. “The elections and their aftermath have added a layer of complexity to assessing the overtures and offers of diplomatic engagement,” she said.Skip to next paragraph
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Obama initially said he wanted by the end of the year either negotiations with Iran or a move to other options for addressing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The president subsequently moved that deadline up to the end of this month. Obama joined other world leaders in setting the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh this month as the next point for taking stock of the Iranian challenge and exploring further action.
On Thursday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, suggested that Russian support for tougher sanctions against Tehran is unlikely.
Mr. Lavrov said the kinds of sanctions under discussion, such as a cutoff of gasoline supplies – something under discussion in the US Congress – would amount to a blockade and hurt the Iranian people. Also, he noted, Iran has never taken aggressive action against Russia.
An inability to act within the Security Council could prompt the US to seek concerted action outside the Council and among what some are calling a “coalition of the willing,” which could include countries like Britain, France, and Germany.
But that would seem to be a last resort for the Obama administration, since it hopes to work with a united Security Council on the kinds of “21st-century security challenges” that Rice discussed Friday.
The US ambassador appeared to address the growing ranks of Obama’s critics on Afghanistan policy – including within the president’s own party – when she placed the war there in the context of those top global security challenges. “We have a very crucial stake in Afghanistan,” she said, “and if we need a reminder, it comes today,” the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which were planned and executed from Afghan soil.
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