January 11th, 2007 04:24 EST
State Department says Iran can move toward dialogue at any time
Washington -- The State Department says U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran under Resolution 1737 are having an impact upon foreign investment in the country and repeats calls for Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities “as a first minimum step” to move toward dialogue and away from confrontation with the international community.
Deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters January 10 that the “greater, larger impact” of the Chapter 7 sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council goes beyond how specific businesses or individuals are affected to the way “Iran’s potential business partners view it.”
Casey’s comments came one day after Ambassador Gregory Schulte, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said many international governments and companies are penalizing Iran's government for its behavior and economic policies. (See related article.)
U.N. sanctions were imposed December 23, 2006, after Iran spurned an offer by the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States -- as well as Germany (collectively known as the P5+1) to provide incentives, including political dialogue and economic cooperation, to Iran in exchange for its agreeing to suspend activities related to uranium enrichment and plutonium production.
Now, as a country under Chapter 7 sanctions, Iran is part of “a very lonely and a very unfortunate club,” Casey said.
“Some financial institutions and other organizations are making a pretty dry-eyed assessment as to whether now is the right moment for them to be involved with a country that is defying the wishes of the U.N., defying the wishes of the international community and is actively under sanction,” he said.
The U.N. sanctions are “very specifically targeted to go after the elements and components that help this regime advance its nuclear program and would help advance its desire to build a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Casey added that he believed the Iranian people do not have a desire to be further “isolated from the rest of the world, being further cut off and being under sanctions,” but warned that future measures could be taken “if Iran continues down this path.”
He also said the sanctions and their manner of implementation are “designed to have a maximum impact on Iran’s nuclear program and a minimum impact on the Iranian people.”
However, he said, “there will always be some spillover effect” to other institutions and individuals “because the Iranian regime has worked so hard to hide this program and has worked so hard to keep its activity out of public view.”
On January 9, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s Bank Sepah for providing financial support and services to a state-owned Iranian industrial group that oversees, manages and coordinates that country’s missile industries and programs. (See related article.)
Casey acknowledged that some Iranian financial institutions and other organizations may be involved in legitimate activities, but said any additional involvement to advance Iran’s nuclear program, “either through the financing of those efforts, through the purchasing of equipment that contributes to that or otherwise,” will cause them to come under scrutiny and be subject to sanctions.
No one, including the United States, is saying that Iran is not allowed to undertake a civilian nuclear program. “We all certainly respect the desire of Iran or any other country to do so,” Casey said. “But it’s got to be done in a way that assures everyone that their intention really is a civil nuclear program and that they’ve not, as they’ve amply demonstrated to us, tried to use such a program as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.”
The deputy spokesman said Iran can move away from confrontation “at any time” in favor of dialogue by taking “the first minimal step toward negotiation with the P5+1 … which is to suspend their enrichment activity.” He said Iran previously had agreed to do this in 2003 under its Paris agreement with European countries.
For more information on U.S. policies, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)