Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ostensibly in London for a pair of key conferences on Yemen and Afghanistan, has actually been spending a growing portion of her time there hectoring her follow foreign ministers to support yet more sanctions against Iran.
Though Clinton insisted just a few weeks ago that the December 31 deadline for Iran to accept the third party enrichment deal wasn’t really a deadline at all, she today declared that the world had no option but to apply the sanctions to punish Iran for failing to meet the deadline.
Clinton said Iran’s failure to meet the deadline was a “turning point,” which had created a growing consensus about the need for UN Security Council backed sanctions.
At present those measures are being blocked by China, which has insisted that sanctions would be counterproductive so long as Iran continues to call for more talks. Clinton expressed optimism that China would “come around” to her way of thinking, however, and back the sanctions.
The third party enrichment deal on the table proposes that Iran send much of its low-enriched uranium overseas, with the promise that France would eventually deliver highly enriched uranium for use in a medical reactor. Iran has expressed concern that France, which reneged on a previous contract with them, might not be trustworthy, and has called for a direct exchange, but also expressed openness to an intermediary (Turkey has been suggested) holding the uranium until the deal is completed.
Western officials condemned the counteroffers as unacceptable, and have rejected calls for additional talks on the deal. Iran has suggested that it may attempt to produce the more highly enriched uranium (20 percent, still far short of weapons-grade) for itself.