DOHA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urged Iran to reconsider its "dangerous" nuclear policy, saying Tehran's stance leaves the world little choice but to impose "greater costs for its provocative steps.”
"Together, we are encouraging Iran to reconsider its dangerous policy decisions," Clinton said in a speech prepared for delivery in the Qatari capital.
Clinton, on a visit to the Gulf, is seeking to enlist more Arab diplomatic pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and to win greater Arab support to revive frozen Israel-Palestinian peace talks, U.S. officials said.
"We are now working actively with our regional and international partners, in the context of our dual-track approach, to prepare and implement new measures to convince Iran to change its course," Clinton said, speaking at a U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha. She is also due to visit Saudi Arabia.
U.S. President Barack Obama has made little headway in his effort to restart peace talks or persuade Iran to rein in a civil nuclear program which the West, as well as many Arab states, suspect is a cover to develop atomic weapons. In her speech, Clinton said evidence is mounting that Iran is in fact pursuing a nuclear weapon.
The United States is leading a push for the UN Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, which says its nuclear program is to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.
The U.S. officials have hinted that one way Saudi Arabia could help diplomatically would be to offer China guarantees it would meet Chinese oil requirements, a step that might ease Beijing's reluctance to impose further sanctions on Iran.
China, which wields a veto on the Security Council, has lucrative commercial relationships with Iran and, along with Russia, has worked to dilute previous sanctions resolutions.
In Jerusalem today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will push for urgent "crippling sanctions" against Iran over its nuclear program during talks in Moscow on February 15 with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
"We will discuss a number of issues. First and foremost the Iranian issue," Netanyahu said at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting.
"Israel believes that heavy pressure must be applied on Iran --- above all very severe sanctions, which were referred to by the U.S. secretary of state as 'crippling sanctions'," Netanyahu said.
Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the existence of the Jewish state.