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US mum on reports of Iran-Russia accord

Officials feel that talk of a deal is a strategy on the part of Tehran to soften the report of the IAEA to UNSC.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 09:36 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

The Bush administration has avoided commenting on reports of an understanding between Iran and Russia on uranium enrichment and said it was awaiting details on the reported accord.

Senior officials have said little on the accord other than saying that Washington is waiting for "details".

When asked about the issue during a talk show on Sunday, President's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said it was too soon to comment on media reports.

"It's too soon to say. We'll have to see. The Russian energy minister announced an agreement in principle, but said negotiations would continue in Moscow. In any of these arrangements, the devil is in the details. We'll just have to see what emerges," Hadley said.

In all the talk about negotiations between Iran and Russia that have been endorsed by the Bush administration, several have taken the position that Tehran is possibly stringing it out keeping the March 6 deadline of reporting to the UN Security Council.

Officials feel that talk of a deal is a strategy on the part of Tehran to soften the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Security Council -- a report that could make the US and the Europeans push for economic and other sanctions against Iran.

On her way back from the Middle East, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remarked that the onus right now was on Iran and that a response is due from Tehran not from the international community.

Rice said the objective right now was to take matters one step at a time with March 6 being an important date.

"We have an international consensus on Iran. That consensus is that the Iranians have got to get back into negotiations," Rice told reporters.

"Let's see what happens in the Security Council. The Iranians now have an opportunity to react to that in a positive way. I think people are going to wait and see whether Iran reacts in a positive way," she added.

According to Rice, if Iran does not react in a positive way, "there will obviously have to be some action by the Security Council to try and again convince Iran that it has to respond."

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 09:25 IST