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A day after Iran agreed to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad, the Obama administration says: not good enough. It's still moving ahead with sanctions to rein in Iran's suspected nuclear program.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she thinks Iran only agreed to the fuel swap deal to derail the effort at the United Nations to get a new sanctions resolution passed, an effort that according to Clinton still has the support of Russia and China.
NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHELE KELEMEN: The timing of the Iranian announcement this week put Secretary Clinton in an awkward place. The U.S. and its partners encouraged Iran last year to try to build confidence by shipping much of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel for a research reactor. Brazil and Turkey managed to persuade Iran to accept a similar fuel swap deal just as the U.S. and its partners agreed to tighten U.N. sanctions.
Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): We don't believe it was any accident that Iran agreed to this declaration as we were preparing to move forward in New York. With all due respect to my Turkish and Brazilian friends, the fact that we had Russia on board, we had China on board and that we were moving to share the text of that resolution, put pressure on Iran, which they were trying to somehow dissipate.
KELEMEN: The U.S. went ahead and circulated the draft resolution this afternoon, and Clinton says both Russia and China agreed to the text. She says the deal Brazil and Turkey negotiated did not address all of the concerns the international community has.
Sec. CLINTON: It is not sufficient for Iran to stand at a press conference and make a declaration. Iran has to clearly and authoritatively convey to the International Atomic Energy Agency what its position is and what it is prepared to do before any offer by Iran can be legitimately considered by the international community. That has not happened.
KELEMEN: Iran has promised to notify the IAEA of the details of the proposed swap within a week. Secretary Clinton was speaking today at a hearing on the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia. The Obama administration has been encouraging the Senate to quickly ratify the new START, arguing it puts the U.S. in a better position to deal with Iran and puts U.S.-Russian relations on a stronger footing.
She met yesterday with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who sounds equally skeptical about the latest Iranian move.
Mr. SERGEI IVANOV (Deputy Prime Minister, Russia): They behave sometimes like teasing the international community.
KELEMEN: Ivanov told a Nixon Center luncheon that Russia supports certain types of sanctions on Iran, and he said the U.N. Security Council action should not be linked to the fuel swap deal. He also made clear that Iran still has to answer questions raised by the IAEA.
Mr. IVANOV: We think that Iran should absolutely open up and let the agency experts to all nuclear facilities, and that finally the questions, which still exist, and we agree that there are still unresolved questions to Iran, they should be finally answered.
KELEMEN: Turkey and Brazil are both currently members of the Security Council. They are not veto holders so they can't block a U.N. Security Council resolution. But Turkey's foreign minister has said this is not the time to talk about new punishments. In his view, Iran showed flexibility by agreeing to deposit for one year 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium in Turkey, and the U.S. and others should take advantage of this new diplomatic opportunity.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
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