White House sees progress in talks with Iran

WASHINGTON – The White House said Sunday it sees signs of progress in confronting Iran’s nuclear program while members of Congress endorsed authorizing tougher U.S. economic penalties against the Tehran government.

International inspectors are to visit Iran’s newly disclosed uranium enrichment site Oct. 25. That announcement Sunday capped a furious week of diplomacy, including Thursday’s session in Geneva where Iran and six world powers resumed nuclear talks.

“The fact that Iran came to the table and seemingly showed some degree of cooperation, I think, is a good thing,” said James Jones, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

“But this is not going to be an open-ended process. We want to be satisfied. We, the world community, want to be satisfied within a short period of time,” Jones said. “So it’s not going to be extended discussions that we’re going to have before we draw our conclusions to what their real intent is. But for now, I think things are moving in the right direction.”

Suspicions about Iran’s nuclear intentions have risen steadily along with fears – and some evidence – that Tehran wants to build an atomic bomb and is using what it calls a civilian nuclear energy program as cover. The Iranians are under three sets of U.N. penalties for refusing to stop enriching uranium, a key first step toward building a bomb.

“Our whole approach is predicated on an urgent need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capacity,” said Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.