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Kerry, IAEA Urge Progress On Nuclear Issue


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have pressed Iran on making progress on the nuclear issue.

Speaking in Riyadh on March 4, Kerry said that a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem "cannot by definition remain open indefinitely."

He added that there is still time to resolve the standoff with Iran if it is prepared to engage seriously.

"The focus for the moment, the first focus is the most urgent focus which remains the challenge of the [Iranian] nuclear program," Kerry said. "That is a threat that extends all throughout the region and in fact globally because of the issue of non-proliferation. So the initial focus is on that issue. Talks [with Iran] will not go on for the sake of talks. And talks cannot become an instrument for delay that, in the end, make the situation more dangerous. So there is a finite amount of time."

Meanwhile, Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, urged Iran to avoid unnecessarily prolonging talks about its alleged nuclear weapons program.

He told the governing board of the IAEA meeting in Vienna that "negotiations must proceed with a sense of urgency and a focus on achieving concrete results in the near term."

"I would like to make clear that the structured approach document is not an end in itself. Nor is the negotiation process," Amano said. "We must not lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is to resolve all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear program. Dialogue should produce results. Timing is also important. "

In a move to raise pressure on Tehran, the IAEA on March 4 called on Tehran to address suspicions that it has sought to design an atomic bomb.

The watchdog wants to access the Parchin military facility. Western intelligence agencies suspect Parchin be a site for testing key components of a nuclear weapon.

Western powers suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. Iran says it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and that sanctions are misguided and hurt ordinary citizens.

Amano's comments came after Iran and six major powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- ended a new round of separate nuclear talks in Kazakhstan last week.
Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, and AP
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