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US urges UN to increase Iran sanctions


Latest update : 2008-08-04

Richard Grenell, the spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations, said on Sunday that Iran ignoring demands for it to stop its nuclear program has left the UN with no choice but to increase sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The United States said on
Sunday that Iran has left the U.N. Security Council no choice
but to increase sanctions on the Islamic Republic for ignoring
demands that it halt sensitive nuclear activities.

The U.S. declaration came a day after an informal deadline
lapsed for Iran to respond to an offer from the United States,
Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia for talks on its
disputed nuclear program.

"It is clear that the government of Iran has not complied
with the international community's demand to stop enriching
uranium and isn't even interested in trying," said Richard
Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

"They leave the Security Council no choice but to increase
the sanctions, as called for in the last resolution passed."

Tehran has not formally responded to the offer. But Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that Iran would
not back down in its nuclear dispute with the powers, which
have supported three rounds of U.N. Security Council

"In whichever negotiation we take part ... it is
unequivocally with the view to the realization of Iran's
nuclear right and the Iranian nation would not retreat one iota
from its rights," Ahmadinejad said in a statement.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons
under cover of a civilian power program. Iran, the world's
fourth largest oil producer, says its uranium enrichment drive
is aimed solely at generating electricity.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana
said in Brussels that he and Iran's top nuclear negotiator,
Saeed Jalili, would discuss the six powers' offer soon.

"We expect a contact between Mr. Solana and Mr. Jalili soon
by phone," the spokeswoman said. She gave no further details.

Western officials gave Tehran two weeks from July 19 to
respond to their offer not to impose more U.N. sanctions on
Iran if it froze any expansion of its nuclear work.

That suggested a deadline of Aug. 2 but Iran, which has
repeatedly ruled out curbing any of its nuclear activities,
dismissed the idea of having two weeks to reply.

The five permanent Security Council members and Germany
have appointed Solana to be their liaison with Iran.


The U.S. delegation at the United Nations might have to put
some pressure on the rest of the council to discuss Iran again.
Diplomats from some of the 14 other council members have said
they would prefer not to enter into negotiations on another
round of sanctions against Iran at the present time.

The third sanctions resolution was approved in March. Among
the penalties it imposed were wider travel and financial
restrictions on named Iranian individuals and companies.

One of the main reasons for council members' reluctance to
take up Iran now is the upcoming U.S. presidential election in
November and what it could mean for U.S. policy on Iran.

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, a Democrat, has
been highly critical of Republican President George W. Bush's
handling of the Iran issue and has promised that if elected he
would pursue a policy of greater engagement with Tehran.

Republican candidate John McCain has criticized Obama's
suggestion that he would pursue direct talks with Tehran.

The other reason for the council's reluctance is that
Russia and China do not want to discuss sanctions now.
Diplomats say the two veto-wielding council members want to
give Iran time to consider the offer of economic and political
incentives in exchange for a suspension of enrichment.

Moscow and Beijing reluctantly backed all three rounds of
U.N. sanctions against Iran but pushed hard to try to water
them down beforehand in negotiations on the resolutions.

Still, council diplomats say, even China and Russia are
frustrated with Tehran's open defiance of four Security Council
resolutions demanding that it suspend enrichment, a technology
that could be used to produce fuel for atomic weapons.

Separately, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in Tehran
on Sunday that Damascus was not mediating or bringing a message
from the West to Iran over its disputed nuclear plans but could
play a role to help defuse the row in future.

Assad made his comments during a two-day trip to Iran that
followed a visit to Paris in July when he told French President
Nicolas Sarkozy he would use his good ties with Tehran to help
resolve the atomic stand-off.

Date created : 2008-08-03