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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rice Warns Iran Over Weapons

BRUSSELS -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Iran on notice Wednesday that it cannot use a European diplomatic initiative to delay accountability for a suspected nuclear weapons program.

"The Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal, really, that the Europeans are giving ... then the Security Council referral looms," she said in an interview Wednesday morning with the U.S. television network Fox News as she began the last leg of her tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Rice, speaking in Paris just before departing for Brussels, said Iran needed to realize it cannot use a European diplomatic initiative to indefinitely delay having the United Nations consider its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"I don't know that anyone has said that as clearly as they should to the Iranians," she said, in a reiteration of U.S. policy.

Rice, on an eight-day tour of Europe and the Middle East, her first as the United States' top diplomat, was to visit NATO headquarters for an informal luncheon with NATO foreign ministers.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer wants the meetings to seal a new unity in the transatlantic alliance following bitter divisions over the Iraq war.

Rice said Tuesday that the expanding NATO alliance could be a bulwark for freedom -- without playing policeman to the world.

"I do not think that NATO needs to become the policeman of the world," Rice said in Paris. "I think that would be asking too much of this alliance."

"It is a bulwark for democratic states, and it can therefore play an important role in the spread of democracy and liberty, but we have other means," Rice said at a news conference with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier.

The transatlantic alliance now includes countries far removed from its Cold War-era roots in Western Europe, and has numerous peacekeeping and military operations around the world.

"NATO has a very important role to play, but we should be very clear that there are many others who need to play these roles as well," Rice said. For example, she noted that Brazil is leading the peacekeeping effort in Haiti and that the African Union is willing to help in Sudan.

Alliance officials said her NATO visit would focus on preparations for a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush on Feb. 22, when he will hold a summit with leaders of the other 25 allied nations.

The talks are also expected to review NATO's peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo and its efforts to train Iraq's military. De Hoop Scheffer said last month's elections in Iraq, widely applauded in Europe, should boost allied efforts to expand its training mission.

NATO has been struggling to persuade governments to commit extra troops to both its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, the problem has been compounded by the refusal of France, Germany and other nations that opposed the U.S.-led war to send instructors.

NATO currently has about 100 troops in Iraq on the training mission.

Rice, an accomplished pianist, closed out the Paris leg of her swing through Europe and the Middle East with a visit to the Hector Berlioz conservatory.

"Next time, I promise that I will practice something and I'll come back and play," Rice told a group of musicians, adding that she was part of a chamber group working on a quintet by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.