US, allies warn of new Iran sanctions

AP News
Posted: Dec 10, 2009 2:42 PM

The United States, Britain and France warned Thursday that Iran risks increased sanctions unless it immediately complies with a series of Security Council resolutions regarding its nuclear program.

Ambassadors from the three countries made their comments at a Security Council meeting after a sanctions committee report to the council on Thursday found an "apparent pattern of sanctions violations involving prohibited arms transfers" over the past three months.

"There is no longer any reason to wait" to consider deeper sanctions, France's Ambassador to the U.N. Geraud Araud told the council.

While Thursday's report dealt mainly with the interdiction of two vessels carrying weapons from Iran and headed for Syria, recent revelations of an undeclared uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom and country's recent declaration that it intends to build 10 more enrichment plants stirred the most concern among diplomats.

"If Iran continues to do everything it can to violate five Security Council resolutions, if it continues to refuse the slightest confidence measures, to refuse dialogue, transparency after the major revelations that have just been made, we must draw all of the necessary conclusions and that means we must move on to a new resolution involving sanctions," Araud said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said that while the United States remained committed to engaging Iran and reaching a diplomatic solution, "the time is short."

"Engagement cannot be a one-way street. Iran must conclusively demonstrate a similar willingness to engage constructively and address the serious issues associated with its nuclear program," Rice said. "Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions."

All three ambassadors expressed disappointment that Iran had failed to accept a proposal backed by International Atomic Energy Agency that would have allowed Tehran to export its uranium for enrichment abroad and have it returned in the form of fuel for nuclear reactors.

That proposal was intended to prevent Iran from weaponizing the uranium, something Tehran claims it has no desire to do.

"Iran has taken every opportunity to delay and protract our efforts to reach agreement on this issue. The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that their responses are calculated to buy time and to try to divide the international community," said Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.

It was unclear whether steps toward tougher sanctions would be taken soon, however, since the ambassadors from Russia and China urged patience and continued diplomacy as the preferred course of action in dealing with Iran.