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US gives Iran one week to defuse N-standoff

US said that Iran had a one-week "opportunity", before the March 6 meeting of UN nuclear watchdog.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 10:47 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

The United States said that Iran had a one-week "opportunity", before the March 6 meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, to ease fears that it seeks atomic weapons.

The warning from Washington came as a senior Russian official said Moscow and Tehran would resume 11th-hour talks on Tuesday aimed at easing the tense standoff, after early reports of a tentative compromise seemed to fizzle out.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on March 6 to assess whether to refer the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, which has the power to introduce sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue.

"We've said that during this time the regime in Iran has an opportunity to change their ways and change their behaviour when it comes to the nuclear program," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Monday.

"The international community remains concerned about the regime's behaviour and about their intentions when it comes to their nuclear program. That's why the matter has been reported to the United Nations Security Council," he said.

His comments came as the IAEA reported that Iran is planning to set up 3,000 centrifuges as it moves towards industrial-scale uranium enrichment in defiance of Western fears that this could be used to make nuclear weapons.

The confidential IAEA report may be crucial in the UN Security Council's deciding whether to take punitive action against Iran, which the United States accuses of seeking nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic programme.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 09:13 IST