Western officials dismiss Iranian nuclear proposal

February 07, 2010

MUNICH — GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — — Western powers pressed Tehran on Saturday to commit to a proposal designed to dispel concerns about its nuclear program, dismissing conciliatory comments from Iranian officials as mere rhetoric meant to forestall sanctions. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, on a trip to Turkey, said it might be time to take a "different tack." Other top defense officials at the Munich Security Conference rejected overtures from Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as nothing new. The frustration reflects concerns that Iran will use the proposal only to buy more time to advance its nuclear ambitions and thwart sanctions. "Unfortunately, this is not a new transparency," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. "It does not mean there is a change - that is the situation and we have to face it." Standing in the way of new sanctions, however, is China, whose Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Munich on Friday urged the world to be patient and keep up diplomatic efforts with Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency has proposed to have Iran export a significant amount of low-enriched uranium for processing, to be returned as refined fuel rods that can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.

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