Washington: On the eve of the most crucial round of talks between Iran and the world powers, the US has said that Tehran has a choice to make in the coming weeks to address concerns about its military nuclear programme.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes yesterday called on Iran to make right choices ahead of the talks with the so-called P5+1 nations comprising of the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany.
"Our view here is that Iran now has a choice in the coming weeks. They should be able to demonstrate that their programme is peaceful," Rhodes said.
"The international community and the P5+1 has made clear that we will respect the right of Iran to have a peaceful nuclear energy programme, provided that they can provide confidence and assurance that that program is peaceful; meet their international obligations; allow for the necessary transparency; accept the necessary limits on their nuclear programme to provide that assurance," he said.
Rhodes said Iran has not taken the steps necessary during the negotiations to provide that assurance.
"In fact, they have been very optimistic in their public comments about reaching agreement, but we are going to need to see them take additional steps in the negotiations for there to be a comprehensive resolution," he said.
Top officials from Iran and P5+1 group will meet in Vienna this week to strike a deal disabling any Iranian nuclear military programme before July 20.
The top US official said: "We are hopeful that we can make progress in narrowing those gaps and pursuing that comprehensive resolution, but the Iranian side is going to have to take additional steps that it should be able to take, frankly, if in fact their nuclear programme is peaceful."
"That will be a key focus of ours in the coming weeks," he said.
Rhodes said the US has seen very good progress made in the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action with Iran halting uranium enrichment.
"So across the board, we have seen good compliance from Iran on its commitments with respect to its nuclear programme. And in return we have provided the limited sanctions relief in the Joint Plan of Action.
"At the same time, there have been negotiations towards a comprehensive agreement, which was the purpose of this Joint Plan of Action in a period of six months of negotiation," he said.
"Those have been serious and substantive discussions. At the same time, however, we do have gaps that need to be closed," he added.