Rice: Iran's President Is 'Dangerous'

condoleeza rice
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, coordinating with European allies, called on the United Nations Thursday to confront Iran's "defiance" and demand that Tehran halt its nuclear program. Rice told CBS News in an exclusive interview that Iran's new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "dangerous."

The threat of nuclear weapons in the heart of the Middle East took on new urgency this week when Iran boasted that after a two year freeze it was restarting its program at this nuclear facility to create highly enriched uranium, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts. It's technology Iran can't be trusted with, Rice said, particularly since Iran's new hardline President has called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

"Well he is certainly an unusual one for president. And yes, I think he's dangerous," Rice told Roberts. "It's dangerous because these are thoughts and words that have consequences."

At a news conference, Rice declined to say whether the United States has the necessary votes at the U.N. Security Council to punish Iran or would even try at this stage.

But she said

and that Tehran was out of step with advances in democracy in the region. And she repeated that she believes there are enough votes for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear activity, to refer the issue to the Security Council.

"I don't think it serves anybody's purpose to have a nuclear-armed Iran," Rice said.

Iran still believes the standoff over its nuclear program could be resolved diplomatically, a senior Iranian official said Thursday in a surprisingly mild response to the European decision to push for U.N. Security Council action.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Iran's top nuclear negotiator told him that Tehran is interested in "serious and constructive negotiations" with Britain, France and Germany.

During a 40-minute telephone conversation, he said, Ali Larijani told him Iran wanted to resume negotiations with the Europeans, but this time with a deadline.

"Iran still believes diplomacy could be productive," Supreme National Security Council spokesman, Hossein Entezami, said in a statement broadcast on state television hours after the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said they had decided to stop negotiating with Iran and refer the country's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.

"Iran pursues its nuclear research activities in the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency regulations and under the supervision of the agency. So there is no reason for challenging Iran's rights in the field of nuclear fuel," Entezami said.
While Iran frequently denounces the West when it comes under pressure, Entezami avoided aggressive language and urged the Europeans not to challenge the Iranian people's demand for nuclear energy. He said the West would be wrong to lead diplomatic channels to a dead end through "unwise decisions."