US warns of 'destabilising' Iran options
Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Tuesday that a nuclear-armed Iran or a conflict over its programme would both destabilise the region as she pressed Tehran for clear commitments in upcoming talks.
As Israel voiced growing impatience over Iran, Clinton credited US sanctions with inflicting pressure on the Islamic republic but she warned of a tough road ahead as Tehran prepares to meet with six major powers.
"There is no clear path. We know that a nuclear-armed Iran would be incredibly destabilising to the region and beyond. A conflict arising out of their programme would also be very destabilising," Clinton said.
"There is no way to balance this. You have two very difficult paths here," Clinton told a dinner in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was on a day trip to visit the only Nato command in the United States.
Clinton, who travelled over the weekend to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, voiced concern that a nuclear-armed Iran would trigger an arms race in the region.
"We're going to be looking for a way to try to convey the legitimate fears that people in the region have about what comes next. Because if Iran were ever to get a nuclear weapon, the countries in the region are going to buy their way to one as well," Clinton said.
Iran said last week that talks would open on April 13 with six powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - in the first such negotiations in more than one year.
But Russia said on Monday that the date and venue have not been definitively set, leading the United States to say that Iran was sending mixed signals.
Clinton, who had earlier given April 13 as the date and Istanbul as the venue, said on Tuesday only that the United States is "hoping that those talks will commence within the next several weeks".
"And we're hoping that there will be a path forward that gives the Iranians a reason to believe that it is in their national interest not to pursue their nuclear program," she said.