US: Iran's Nuclear Issue Can't Be Resolved With Talks Alone
U.S. officials said Thursday that an Iranian offer to allow the country's nuclear experts to meet with American and other scientists was not enough to ease concerns about that country's nuclear program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the proposal in an interview with Washington Post and Newsweek journalists on Wednesday, calling it a confidence-building measure.
But a State Department official said further measures were needed to provide assurances that Iran was not trying to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is simply trying to generate energy.
"I don't think just talking to scientists opens up their nuclear program," said the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to be more candid.
The official added that there was "a real sense of urgency" in the U.S. government about Iran's nuclear program.
"We really hope they come armed with some serious proposals on Oct. 1," he said, referring to a scheduled meeting between a senior Iranian diplomat and counterparts from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. It will be the first formal U.S.-Iranian meeting since President Obama took office.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the administration had not received any offer from Iran to provide access to its nuclear experts. He said he did not want to prejudge how the U.S. government would respond, Washington Post reported.
"There are no details on this. I think we'd have a lot of questions about it," he said.
Kelly said U.S. officials "do want to sit down with them [Iranian officials] and have a serious exchange and find out if, indeed, they're ready to open up their nuclear program."
In the interview Wednesday, Ahmadinejad also said that Iran would seek to purchase enriched uranium from the United States for medical purposes.
Asked about that, Kelly responded: "We're willing to entertain constructive proposals, but we also need to have addressed our very, very serious concerns about the nature of their nuclear activities."
Ahmadinejad suggested the sale of such uranium by the Americans would show the Obama administration's commitment to engagement. But experts said that the Iranian government could cite a U.S. refusal to provide the material as a reason to enrich the material itself.