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Ban: stop giving Tehran time in which to stall talks.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has used unusually strong language and told the UN Security Council to cease giving Iran unlimited time in which to stall and avoid agreeing to a settlement limiting its nuclear program.

"We should not give much more time to the Iranians, and we should not waste time," Ban said.

His remarks were startling because the UN secretary general is generally viewed as the agent carrying out Security Council policy, not someone who tells the Security Council what to do.

Ban specifically compared Iran with North Korea, which recently exploded its third nuclear weapon.

In an interview last Thursday with The Washington Post, Ban said the world was running the risk that Iran would follow the lead of North Korea and string out talks, using them as a cover while building a bomb.

"We have seen what happened with [North Korea]," said Ban, a former foreign minister of South Korea. "It ended up that they secretly, quietly, without any obligations, without any pressure, [were] making progress [on nuclear weapons]," he told the Post.

In dealing with Iran, he said, the UN Security Council must "show a firm decisive and effective, quick response."

Last year Ban flew to Tehran for a visit that several countries opposed, fearing it would be seen as a reward given the Islamic Republic for stalling. But Ban told the Post he used the visit to tell both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenehi and President Ahmadi-nejad that he was not satisfied with their spoken assurances that Iran's nuclear program is a peaceful one. No one had previously revealed that.

In the interview, Ban sounded very frustrated at the slow pace and lack of results in the nuclear talks with Iran. They were begun almost a decade ago in 2003 by Britain, Germany and France.

The Tehran regime appeared rattled by Ban's critical remarks. Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, sent a letter to Ban the same day the interview was published saying it was "unfortunate" that Ban had adopted a stand "in contradiction to his duties and against international principles."

What is unknown at this point is whether Ban's remarks were a one-time statement of exasperation, or whether they were the opening of a campaign to press Security Council members to tighten the noose on Tehran.

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Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Feb 22, 2013
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