WASHINGTON (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed Wednesday that the White House remains open to diplomatic engagement with the Iranian government if Tehran is serious about negotiations regarding its controversial nuclear program.
"If Iran is serious about taking practical steps to address the international community's deep concerns about (the) program, we will continue to engage both multilaterally and bilaterally to discuss the full range of issues that have divided Iran and the United States for too long," she said.
"The door is open to a better future for Iran. But the process of engagement cannot be open-ended. We are not prepared to talk just for the sake of talking."
Clinton made her remarks during a wide-ranging speech on nuclear non-proliferation at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a non-partisan think tank.
Tehran says its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes.
But many in the West believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.
The Obama administration is working on a substantial sanctions package against Iran in case current diplomatic efforts to curb its nuclear program fail, top officials told Congress earlier this month.
Negotiators recently hammered out the details of a tentative deal calling for low-enriched uranium produced in Iran to be sent abroad for further enrichment and then returned for use in medical research and treatment.
Clinton's address touched on U.S. policy in a range of hot spots around the globe, including North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia.
Among other things, Clinton said the United States is prepared to meet with North Korea. Current sanctions will not be relaxed, however, until Pyongyang takes verifiable, irreversible steps to dismantle its nuclear
program, she added.
The State Department recently decided to authorize visas for a North Korean nuclear delegation so members can attend conferences in the United States later this month.
North Korea pulled out of talks in April in protest of the United Nations' condemnation over its nuclear test and missile launches.
Turning her attention to central Asia, Clinton said Pakistan's embattled government has reassured administration officials that, despite a recent spate of attacks by militants, its nuclear stockpile remains secure.
While the attacks do not pose a threat to Pakistan's nuclear weapons, she noted, U.S. officials "have asked a lot of questions" of the Pakistani government.
The secretary also hit back against domestic critics of the administration's willingness to negotiate a new START arms control agreement with Russia.
The United States is interested in a new agreement because it will bolster American security, she asserted. "Clinging to nuclear weapons in excess of our security needs" will not protect the United States, she said.
Clinton called for an expansion of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and appealed for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the Senate. She conceded the administration has its "work cut out" in winning approval, but argued it is "the right thing to do." The secretary noted that the U.S. government is already is observing a moratorium on nuclear testing.
Finally, Clinton pushed for passage of the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which would ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
Congress has yet to approve the measure.
She warned that "vast stocks of potentially vulnerable nuclear material remain vulnerable to theft and diversion."
There is a danger of a world with a "steadily growing number of nuclear states and terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material," she said.
–CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.
We're open to talks with Iran, but not Fox News.
What are we going to do?
What will the UN do?
Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Oh, sorry... they will pass some teethless UN resolutions.
Iran doesn't HAVE TO do anything it doesn't want to do, because apparantly no one in the world has the brass pair to MAKE Iran comply. We haven't heard a disagreeable peep out of Japan since early August 1945. And I wonder why?
Today, the modern world is, in effect, no different than the old British bobby policeman blowing his whistle, shouting, "Halt! Or I shall be forced to cry 'Halt' again!"
Diplomacy is a refreshing approach. I am confident it will be better than calling them a part of the axes of evil, and then let them build up their nuclear capability, unchallenged, over the last 8 years because the president did not want to talk to them.
Yeah, just like North Korea was serious nuclear talks when her husband caved in to their damands when he was president.
When will America realize the Clintons are inept at foreign policy?
We must use diplomacy, and exhaust every diplomatic option! We can not afford ...... another war!
Its interesting how UNDE the Bush Regime, Iran was able to get this far in the building of a nuclear weapon! And North Korea was able to launch missiles!
War is not the answer.
Let's see, we need another election in Afghanistan because there was fraud there, otherwise we may not commit to help them.
But we can ignore the fraud in Iran, and the political repression, show trials and imprisonment.
Oh I get it, Obama isn't afraid of Afghanistan but he is terrified of Iran.
Just do what you've been doing Mr. President and Madam Secretary: appologize, grovel, smile and move on. Forget about all the Iranians who have been killed, tortured, and jailed for protesting the corrupt, brutal regime you're about to appease.
I like the idea of everyone stopping weapons grade nuclear material. The questions are how to enforce it and what would be the penalties for it. Russia really needs to collect what they have and secure it. Hagel and Obama were working on that when they were in the Senate. Who's doing that now?
Sure let's negotiate. How about we negotiate with a couple 2000 pound laser guided bombs on top of their nuclear facilities?
I'm sure Obama is willing to do anything to get Iran to agree to talk. Problem is, IRAN is too busy laughing at us to talk.
No – negotiations.
The way you achieve peace is by ignoring your enemies and assigning stereotypes to them. Dehumanize them and force them to our will.
Anything else is liberal, bleeding heart crap.
anything beside ignoring them is appeasing them. I don't know what appeasing means but that's what it is anyhow!
And negotiations are also Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Terrorists and leftist pandering! Blah!
We need to show these people that our culture is superior and whatever we say goes! Blah, Blah, blah!!! And you do that by never speaking to them!!
I'm a right-winger. I have never served my country, but I have no problem with others dying so i can feel tough!!
Diplomacy is for wimps. others parents kids dying in war is for real men!
We just need to send over more troops – but no draft cause i will dodge, but I am a real man because I name call the lefty wimps.
Let's bomb Iran like Japan. who cares if we kill children, they aren't mine.
I am a righty, and have never been outside my town and can't name 5 countries in Europe, but I know we have bombs and we should use them against everyone i don't agree with!!
America is number 1, Iran needs to be bombed. Fox News says we should not appease. I hate teasing and appeasing rhymes with appeasing so I hate that too!!
Obama is a pansy for talking to them, we should just think things and make them comply!!
Don't tell Republicans that . All they want to do is start a war with the world and give Haiburton big contracts.
Obama is the worst President ever. Bush was the best. Look at how much people were scared of us back then. and look how safe he and Cheney kept us, except once...
Now the world love us.!! Blech!!