US senators signal concern on Iran nuclear talks

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 18 2012 09:21 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2012 05:21 PM

WASHINGTON - A group of senators warned President Barack Obama Friday that they would strongly oppose any proposal in talks with Iran that would allow it to continue uranium enrichment activities.

A letter signed by a dozen senators from both parties expressed concern that Iran would try to use a resumption of talks with world powers on its nuclear program to buy time and dilute international pressure on it.

"Such tactical maneuverings are a dangerous distraction and should not be tolerated," the senators said.

"For instance, we would strongly oppose any proposal that caps or limits sanctions against the Iranian regime in exchange for anything less than full, verifiable, and sustained suspension of all enrichment activities, including both 3 percent and 20 percent enrichment."

The lead authors of the letter were Senators Joe Lieberman, an independent, Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Jim Risch, a Republican.

It came amid signs that Iran, under growing pressure from international sanctions, was preparing to return to the talks on its nuclear program with the so-called "P5 plus 1" -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, plus Germany.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said earlier Friday at a news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that she was "cautious and optimistic" that Iran would return to the talks.

The last round of talks collapsed in Turkey in January 2011.