U.S.: Iran urged to change ways or ‘pay the price’

Iran nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has denied claims that the facility is being used to produce nuclear weapons.
A recently revealed nuclear facility in Iran will be the centerpiece of talks in Switzerland among representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and Iran’s nuclear chief.

“These will not be easy talks,” warned one senior U.S. administration official. The first task in Geneva will be to test whether Iran is ready to engage on the nuclear issue. The question will be: “What steps are they willing to take to build confidence with the international community,” said one official. According to three senior U.S. administration officials, the United States wants IAEA nuclear monitors to have unfettered access to the facility. The first option would be to persuade Iran to change its ways through dialogue, but if that fails, then isolation and sanctions are other options, they said. “If it’s not going to succeed, then there has to be consequences,” an official said. Pressure could also come from the U.N. Security Council, the United States or other like-minded nations.

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“They will respond,” one official said referring to Iran. “If not, they will pay the price.” Iran sent shockwaves through the international community last week when Tehran wrote a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency revealing the existence of a nuclear enrichment facility near the city of Qom. The admission prompted President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France to publicly chide the Islamic republic and threaten further sanctions. Iran claims its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, but many in the international community have accused the country of trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability. “It is against our tenets, it is against our religion to produce, use, hold or have nuclear weapons or arsenal,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state-run Press TV. “How can we more clearly state our position Since 1974 we have been saying this.”

IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei said Tuesday that Iran broke international law by not disclosing sooner the uranium enrichment site. “Iran was supposed to inform us on the day it was decided to construct the facility. They have not done that,” El Baradei told CNN’s sister station in India, CNN-IBN.