Susan Rice: U.S. In ‘Intense Negotiations’ With Iran

October 4, 2009 6:47 a.m.

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said on Meet the Press this morning that the United States is in the midst of “intense negotiations” with Iran — but refused to comment on the accuracy of a New York Times report that Iran already has the knowledge necessary to make a working atom bomb.

“Right now we are in a period of intense negotiation,” Rice said. “It’s not an infinite period. It’s a very finite period.”

Rice characterized Iran’s meeting with world powers last week as “a constructive beginning,” but also emphasized that “it was only a beginning.”Now, she said, the onus is “squarely on Iran.”

Either they give up their nuclear weapons program conclusively to our satisfaction, or they will face additional pressure.

What might that pressure be? Sanctions, Rice said, “economic or otherwise,” that are enforced either unilaterally by the U.S., in concert by the U.S. and European partners, or multilaterally through the U.N. Security Council.

NBC’s David Gregory and Rice had a rather testy exchange about the possibility of sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, with Gregory questioning that if this was truly a “war of necessity,” why hasn’t President Obama already agreed to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for more troops.

“There’s no decision more serious, David, than putting more Americans into harm’s way,” Rice said. “The President will do what is necessary to keep Americans safe. But he’s gonna do it after a thoughtful and thorough analysis.”

Is the President holding back on more troops because of political pressure from the left?

“Absolutely not,” Rice said.

Gregory also asked about the President’s trip last week to Copenhagen to make a final pitch for Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. Was it a mistake to go?

“It’s never a mistake for the President of the United States to be willing to fight and compete on behalf of our country,” Rice said, adding that “he would do it again in a nanosecond.”

Rice continued: “The day I’ll get concerned is when we have a President in the White House who refuses to fight for the United States and compete because he’s concerned about pundits or political criticism.”

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