WASHINGTON – Iran alone is to blame for the waves of international criticism it is receiving for its nuclear policies, the State Department said Thursday as it rejected a verbal broadside from Iran's senior nuclear negotiator.
"We're talking about a nuclear program characterized by deception and prevarication," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said in response to an unusually heated rhetorical assault by the top Iranian negotiator, Ali Larijani.
Larijani spoke in Moscow, where he had gone to discuss a U.S.-backed Russian proposal to transfer Iran's nuclear enrichment activities to Russia to avoid having it contribute to a weapons program in Iran. The U.S. campaign to refer Iran's activities to the U.N. Security Council, Larijani said, "means the destruction of the Russian proposal."
The enrichment process can create material that could be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.
"America is lying," Larijani said, "trying to destroy the Russian proposal."
Asked about the comment, the State Department's Ereli shot back: "If Iran has a problem with the state of affairs and the situation it finds itself in, Iran has only itself to blame."
And, he said, "If they want to point fingers, they'll need more than 10 of them to point." That is, Ereli said, 56 members of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency had approved resolutions of concern about Iran's programs.
The U.N. watchdog agency's board has referred the dispute to the Security Council, and "that is as it should be," Ereli said.
In Congress, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iran's programs. The chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, said the Iranians are trying to acquire nuclear weapons.
"Iranian leaders deceived the international community about its nuclear activities for more than 18 years," Lugar said in an opening statement. "They have rejected compromises and threatened to cut off oil and natural gas exports should the international community impose sanctions."
The State Department also criticized Iran for suspending negotiations with the European Union and resuming enrichment activities.
"We see that diplomacy as a way out of this conundrum," Ereli said amid reports the sidelined talks might be resumed.