The window for dialogue over Iran’s nuclear program is closing, the U.S. ambassador to Israel said Wednesday, insisting Washington holds no illusions over Tehran’s agenda at the talks.
Speaking at Tel Aviv University a week after world powers held a second round of largely fruitless talks with Iran, ambassador Dan Shapiro insisted Washington would not continue such dialogue forever.
“We don’t intend on continuing talks for talks’ sake. The window is closing,” he told delegates attending an international security conference at the university.
“We have no illusions that Iran may be using this to buy time,” he said. “It is up to Iran to follow through. The burden falls on Iran to prove it is serious.”
Iran and the P5+1 -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- achieved little in two days of intense talks in Baghdad last week except for setting up another meeting in Moscow in June.
Shapiro said there were “significant differences” at the Baghdad talks, but also “a narrow common ground” which the parties would try to build on in the Russian capital.
But the U.S. envoy warned the “harshest sanctions” were yet to come.
And he said the threat of military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities was still open.
“As we apply all elements of American power to prevent a nuclear Iran, the United States takes no option off the table -- that means a political component, a diplomatic component, an economic component and a military option,” he said.
Neither Washington nor Israel has ruled out the option of a military strike but the Obama administration has made clear it favors diplomacy over force at this stage.
Shapiro said Washington and Israel both agreed that Iran should stop all enrichment, not just enrichment to a high level.
“Exactly like Israel, the United States believes Iran must cease all uranium enrichment,” he said, insisting on the necessity for Tehran to “take concrete measures” to prove it was doing so.
Ahmadinejad’s continuous defiance
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday he did not expect talks in June with six world powers in Moscow over Iran’s nuclear powers to yield any major breakthroughs.
“We are not expecting miracles at the next nuclear meeting in Moscow,” he said in an interview with France 24 television.
He also said that Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20 percent “is our right” and “is not a step towards a bomb.”
The enrichment activity, which world powers are trying to curb in fraught talks with Iran, “is one of our rights in terms of international law,” he added.
He said that world powers “should provide us with uranium at 20 percent enrichment level, but so far they have not done so.”
As a result, he said, Iran “decided to move forward on our own” with enrichment.
His remarks on Iran being supplied with 20 percent enriched uranium as translated into English for the channel offered a different formulation.
IAEA sees new ‘activities’ at Parchin
The U.N. nuclear watchdog showed new satellite imagery on Wednesday indicating that Iran may be cleaning a site where inspectors suspect it has carried out tests relevant to developing atomic bombs, participants at a closed-door briefing said.
One person who attended the presentation by senior U.N. nuclear agency officials for diplomats accredited to the International Atomic Energy Agency said a May 25 image showed “ground scraping activities” at the Parchin military site.
Another envoy said one building also appeared to have been removed from the site, compared with earlier images of the same place.
Last week, the IAEA said in a report issued to member states that satellite images showed “extensive activities” at the facility southeast of Tehran.
It did not elaborate, but Western diplomats say they suspect Iran is trying to remove any incriminating evidence from the site, which the U.N. agency wants to visit as part of its probe into possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran, which denies Western accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability, has dismissed charges aired about Parchin as “childish” and “ridiculous.”