US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice carried strong NATO and EU backing for fresh UN sanctions against Iran's nuclear program as she headed to talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday.
It will be Rice's first face-to-face test with Lavrov since a US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) published on Monday suggested Iran shelved work on an atomic bomb in 2003.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said NATO and the EU vowed late on Thursday to keep up pressure on Iran, saying: "Everybody agreed that we should not change our position" despite the report.
Russia and China suggested that the new intelligence undermined the US case for a third round of sanctions.
When she flew to Brussels on Thursday for meetings with EU and NATO diplomats, Rice argued that the report shows that international pressure caused Iran to change course in the past and would do so again.
"I don't see that the NIE changes the course that we're on," Rice said.
Rice added that Iran -- even if it is now known not to be actively pursuing a "weaponization" program -- remains dangerous because it refuses to suspend enriching uranium which could be used in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The US argument has carried the day in Brussels, De Gucht said.
The US has led efforts to impose tougher UN sanctions on Iran, while EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has tried to persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for political and economic incentives.
"The reason we have to sanction on one hand and to deal on the other hand remains entirely valid," De Gucht said.
"The whole process of enrichment only makes sense when it's part of a process of producing a nuclear weapon, if not the whole process does not make sense," he said.
"Once they have the fissile fuel they can decide at any moment to produce an atomic weapon," De Gucht said.
The West fears the Islamic republic has been trying to develop a nuclear bomb covertly behind the screen of a civilian atomic program. Tehran insists it only wants to produce electricity by nuclear means.
The NIE report said that Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program four years ago probably came in response to international pressure, such as sanctions.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband reinforced the Belgian foreign minister's points yesterday.
"The issue for all of us is the enrichment program Iran has been pursuing in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and there was unanimity around the table that there is a clear choice for Iran," Miliband said.
"Iran can see the outstretched hand of the international community if they are willing to join the drive against non-proliferation," he said.
"If Iran insists on defying the will of the United Nations Security Council then there must be further sanctions," he said.
In Paris, France yesterday also pushed for continued negotiations to tighten international sanctions against Iran, saying its concerns about Tehran's nuclear program were not allayed by new US intelligence.
"Negotiations should continue so that we can reach possibly a worsening of the sanctions regime," French presidential spokesman David Martinon said.
"We need to increase pressure on Iran and the only way to do that is sanctions," he said. "For us, the sooner the better."
He urged Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency and suspend uranium enrichment.
"The demands of the international community are more pertinent than ever," he said.
ANTI-SHIP CONFIGURATION: The Tuo Chiang-class vessels are to be built for NT$9.7 billion by Lung Teh, a shipyard that previously built four similar corvettes for the navy The Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday awarded Lung Teh Shipbuilding (龍德造船) a NT$9.7 billion Co (US$317.57 million) contract to build five Tuo Chiang-class corvettes with anti-ship capabilities, a defense official familiar with the matter said yesterday. The corvettes would carry vertical launchers for four Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) missiles, as well as eight Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, in contrast to ships configured for anti-air warfare, which carry eight HF-2 and four HF-3 missiles, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The anti-ship corvettes would be armed for improved standoff range against surface combatants and carry the latest
PARTIAL SUPPORT: Morris Chang said he agrees with the US’ goal to slow advances of China’s chip sector, but US policies that might boost chip prices perplex him Washington’s efforts to on-shore semiconductor production might lead to surges in chip prices and supply bottlenecks, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) said yesterday. The 91-year-old industry veteran said he supports parts of Washington’s effort to slow China’s progress on advanced chip manufacturing. China is still six years behind Taiwan in making advanced chips, despite years-long efforts to catch up, Chang told a Commonwealth Magazine forum that he coheadlined with Tufts University assistant professor Chris Miller, an expert on the US-China rivalry’s effects on chip manufacturing. However, Chang said that other parts of the effort, particularly Washington’s on-shoring
‘COINCIDENCE’: The former president should keep in mind local and global response to his actions and abide by the law to safeguard national interests, the MAC said The Presidential Office yesterday confirmed that it has received an application from former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to visit China next week and would be discussing his security detail. “As the travel restrictions on former president Ma have expired, we respect his plan to pay respect to his ancestors in China,” Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said. “We will review his travel plan and consult concerned agencies to assist him in arranging his security detail.” “We also hope that Ma, as a former commander in chief of Taiwan, acts in a manner that aligns with national interests and does not hurt
‘WRONG DECISION’: Honduras should carefully consider the situation, and not fall into China’s trap and jeopardize the bilateral friendship, the foreign ministry said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that it had expressed “grave concern” to the government of Honduras after Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that it would pursue official diplomatic relations with China. In addition to issuing a statement, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yui (俞大㵢) summoned Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Harold Burgos to the ministry in Taipei early yesterday to voice the government’s concerns. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes and Burgos did not make any public comments upon arriving at the ministry. Burgos said shortly after noon that he had not yet heard from his country’s