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State Department Defends Iran Diplomacy

In an interview with U.S. News, Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, defended the Bush administration's continued pursuit of diplomacy at the United Nations Security Council on Iran's nuclear programs, despite earlier hopes by administration officials that a third, tougher sanctions resolution on Iran would have been adopted by now.

"Diplomacy is the best way to resolve this problem," he says. Burns, the No. 3 official at State, spoke at a time when calls by conservative commentators and analysts for stronger action on Iran, including possibly military action, are rising. President Bush's recent tough rhetoric on Iran--he warned of a future threat of a "nuclear holocaust" from Iran and vowed to confront Iran on the nuclear front and for meddling in Iraq--has also stirred speculation that the administration may be preparing to move past the U.N. Security Council route to tougher measures. Burns, however, indicated no such policy change.

"We've been focused on diplomacy. We don't believe we've exhausted the diplomatic options," he says. Burns also asserted that the administration had succeeded in galvanizing world concern about the Iranian nuclear drive. "We've been able to turn this into a world vs. Iran issue."

By Thomas Omestad

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