Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on Saturday it considered the deployment of U.S. warships to the Gulf as part of routine activity, apparently backing away from previous warnings to Washington not to enter the area.
“U.S. warships and military forces have been in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East region for many years and their decision in relation to the dispatch of a new warship is not a new issue and it should be interpreted as part of their permanent presence,” IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami told the official IRNA news agency.
In related news, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that Iran must show a “seriousness and sincerity of purpose” if it is to resume talks with six world powers on its suspect nuclear program.
However, Clinton would not say what kind of confidence-building steps the powers envisaged when they mentioned them in a letter sent to Iran in October as part of efforts to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
“We all are seeking clarity about the meaning behind Iran’s public statements that they are willing to engage, but we have to see a seriousness and sincerity of purpose coming from them,” Clinton told a press conference.
The talks last took place in Turkey in January 2011.
Iran has signaled that it is willing to return to the negotiations, but the six powers are still waiting for a reply to the letter sent by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, her office said Friday.
The letter to Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili was sent on October 21 on behalf of permanent U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus non-permanent member Germany.
Ashton said in her missive: “If the Iranian side is prepared to engage seriously in meaningful discussions on concrete confidence building steps and demonstrate willingness to address the international community's concerns about the nature of its nuclear program, without pre-conditions, we would be willing to agree on a next meeting.”
Clinton, was speaking at a press conference in Washington with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who said Ashton's letter “underlines” a dual-track strategy pursued by the six powers.
“On the one hand, it is necessary to show the Iranian government that we are united and that we do not accept any option for nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian government,” the top German diplomat said.
“It is also necessary to show that we are ready for dialogue, but we are ready for serious dialogue and substantial talks on this. Just to meet for show, that this meeting would be misused for propaganda, is not what we want.”