Rice says Iran is `playing games'

The Bush administration calls Iran's offer to let a watchdog agency inspect the country's nuclear facilities a stalling tactic intended to avoid U.N. penalties that would further isolate Tehran.

"I think they're playing games," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "But obviously, if they're not playing games, they should come clean. They should stop the enrichment, suspend the enrichment."

Iran's deputy oil minister played down the chance of U.N. action, saying punishing Tehran would send oil prices even higher.

Tehran on Saturday offered to allow inspections if the U.N. Security Council would turn the dispute over to its nuclear monitor, the International Atomic Energy Agency. A report by the U.N. agency confirmed Iran had successfully produced enriched uranium and defied the Security Council's Friday deadline to stop the process.

Iran maintains it will not make nuclear weapons and does not need or want them. But the United States, Britain and France suspect the intent of the uranium enrichment program is to make nuclear warheads.

"The international community is completely of one mind, that no one wants, needs or really can tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran in the midst of the world's most volatile region. That is the consistent view," Rice told CNN's "Late Edition."

While the U.S. and its European allies are pushing for possible penalties, veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China have opposed the idea, reports the AP.

I.L.