U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he sees no indication that a nuclear deal is close between Iran and a group of world powers, despite claims by Tehran.
Speaking to reporters in Turkey Saturday, Gates said if Iran is serious about a proposal to exchange low-enriched uranium for higher-grade fuel it should cooperate with the deal's broker -- the International Atomic Energy Agency. A day earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said at an international security conference in Germany that Iran was nearing agreement with world powers on a nuclear fuel exchange.
On Saturday, Mottaki said he had a "very good meeting" with the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano on the sidelines of the conference, in which they discussed the nuclear proposal. The United States and other nations believe Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon, while Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Secretary Gates said Iran has "done nothing to reassure the international community" or to stop progress toward building a nuclear weapon. He suggested that it may be the time for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran. The major players involved in the discussion over Iran's nuclear program are the five members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain -- plus Germany, a group known as the P5 plus 1.So far, China has shown the most reluctance to imposing new sanctions against Iran.
The country's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, on Friday urged more patience with Iran and a focus on diplomacy. Russia has traditionally resisted punishing Iran as well. But Moscow recently has begun siding more with other nations seeking a fourth round of sanctions.