By Rebecca Shabad - 11/15/13 08:33 AM EST
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, warned Friday protracted negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program is a “very legitimate concern" because they give Tehran more leverage.
“That is a very legitimate concern and that’s why freezing the program – we were concerned that if we didn’t make an interim deal they’d be taking advantage of the length of the negotiation,” she said Friday.
A new report Thursday, however, from the nuclear program watchdog may suggest Iran is already slowing its nuclear program.
The country has only added four basic centrifuges to its main uranium enrichment plan since August, according to the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The IAEA report we got yesterday which we’re still reviewing shows that actually since [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani came to power the program has been frozen, at least from the IAEA perspective,” Power said Friday.
The report comes after negotiations last weekend between the P5+1 — the United States, France, Britain, France, Germany, and China — and Iran were unsuccessful.
“We have to test this regime,” Power said. “There is so much mistrust of course that we bring to these negotiations after generations of suspicion, and that cuts both ways.”
Israel has been the staunchest opponent of a deal with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the U.S. against negotiating with the Iranians, calling it “a very bad deal.”
Asked if the Israelis are making negotiations more difficult, Power suggested it didn’t play a major role in the outcome of the latest talks. The U.S. will continue consulting Israel, she said, which shares the same goal as the Obama administration: prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.
“The sign that this is not a good deal for Iran is the fact that they haven’t taken the deal that’s on the table right now.”
The next round of talks is scheduled to resume Nov. 20.