Washington has said it was talking to India, Pakistan, Russia, and
China about what they can do to "wean themselves" from Iranian
crude as the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran.
"We are engaged in conversations with all of these governments
with regard to the importance of implementing existing
international sanctions, national sanctions," State Department
spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Friday when asked
about several countries still doing business with Iran.
It was also talking to them about "doing what they can to increase
sanctions, particularly to wean themselves from Iranian crude. So
this is a process, it's still going on", she said.
But as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, "We do
assess that the pressure, economic and diplomatic, on Iran is
beginning to pinch. And you see the fruit of that, and the fact
that we - after many months, have Iran suggesting that we go back
to the table", Nuland said.
Asked about Pakistan saying that it is going ahead with the
construction of the gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan, she
said: "We have issues of concern and we've been very clear about
those with the government of Pakistan."
"We think it's a bad idea; we've made that clear. But I'm not
going to predict where this might go."
Asked about Israel blaming Iran's Quds Force for a string of
attacks on Israeli diplomats in India, Georgia and Thailand,
Nuland said: "I think, we are still where we are, that we wouldn't
be surprised if the fingerprints and the trail lead back to Iran
but we're not in a position to assess until the investigations of
the host governments are complete."
In response to another question, she said the US had offered help
in the investigations but could not say if any of the countries
had taken up the offer.
Nuland's comments came as the US imposed three new separate
sanctions actions against Iran's primary intelligence agency, the
Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
Iran is under a few sets of UN Security Council sanctions. Western
countries led by the US suspect that the Islamic Republic is
seeking to build nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists it needs
nuclear power solely for civilian purposes.
(Arun Kumar can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)