Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte, permanent representative of the US to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also expressed his conviction that the apparent absence of Iran's unwillingness for cooperation with the IAEA will lead to a new resolution to be made at the UN headquarters in New York.
Speaking with a group of journalists via a digital video conference held at the US Embassy in Ankara on Wednesday, Schulte responded to a question on whether Turkey's policy of improving bilateral economic relations with neighboring Iran might lead to a crack in the unified stance of the international community, with international isolation a key tool for convincing Iran to rethink its nuclear ambitions. "This is not the time for business as usual with Iran. … This is [the] time to convince the Iranian leadership," Schulte answered, referring to the need for Iran to halt uranium enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA concerning its controversial nuclear plans, a source of concern for the entire international community.
Noting that a "carrot-and-stick policy" is already being implemented toward Tehran with the aim of convincing them to find a resolution to the ongoing dispute via diplomatic means, Schulte added the caveat that "offering a carrot to a rabbit which is still spinning centrifuges" may not be a useful policy. In order to make diplomacy succeed, Tehran should be encouraged to re-evaluate its interests and should be convinced to change its course, he underlined.
Late in May in Ankara, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Güler and his visiting Iranian counterpart, Parviz Fattah, announced that Ankara and Tehran had reached an agreement over electricity trade and dam and power station construction. At the time, asked about possible negative reaction to the deal from the US, Iran's arch-foe, Güler said: "We had no discussions on this... This deal is a continuation of relations between two neighboring countries."
Only a day before Schulte's video-conference with journalists in Ankara, the US State department said on Tuesday that the US and other major powers have begun preliminary consultations on a new set of UN sanctions related to Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Spokesman Sean McCormack said he did not know when a sanctions resolution might be introduced at the UN Security Council but "we're talking about elements of it right now." The UN Security Council has adopted two sanctions resolutions since December, raising the pressure on Tehran each time.
During his talks with reporters, Schulte underlined more than a few times his pleasure over the fact that "Turkey is moving ahead with implementing sanctions," in line with the two UN Security Council resolutions. "Sanctions are part of diplomacy," Schulte said and added that Iran was struck by the anonymous stance among the international community regarding the dispute and that it has been "doing its best to divide this international consensus."