Iran Nuclear NewsU.S. predicts fast action at U.N. if sanctions on...

U.S. predicts fast action at U.N. if sanctions on Iran are needed

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New York Times: A senior Bush administration official said Thursday that he anticipated that the United Nations would move rapidly in September to impose sanctions on Iran if it refused to halt uranium enrichment, a process central to building nuclear weapons. The New York Times

By THOM SHANKER

Published: August 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 — A senior Bush administration official said Thursday that he anticipated that the United Nations would move rapidly in September to impose sanctions on Iran if it refused to halt uranium enrichment, a process central to building nuclear weapons.

The official, R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said the punishment “will be well deserved” if Iran failed to act by a looming deadline set by the Security Council.

The Security Council voted late last month to give Iran until Aug. 31 to accept a package of European Union-led incentives in exchange for suspending its uranium enrichment, or suffer the penalty of economic sanctions.

“It’s not a mystery to the Iranians what is going to happen,” Mr. Burns said during a breakfast meeting with reporters.

“I think we would want to move very quickly in the first part of September toward a debate in the Security Council about sanctions,” he said. “They will be well deserved as this has gone on a long time.”

Mr. Burns emphasized that the United States already had agreements from Russia and China and other Security Council members to move to economic sanctions under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter if Iran failed to comply.

The resolution passed by the Security Council on July 31 demands that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing work by the end of August or face the possibility of sanctions. It noted the need for “further decisions,” however, before any punishments for noncompliance could be pursued.

Some diplomats have suggested that Russia and China — which have joined the major powers threatening Iran with economic sanctions — may not in the end vote to approve the sanctions and may even exercise their veto power in the Security Council.

Mr. Burns said Iran’s role in creating, financing and arming Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon in their fight against Israel “will reinforce the effort to hold Iran accountable should they not provide the clear answer needed” on the nuclear issue.

“The will of a lot of countries has been strengthened by watching the Iranian government trying to destabilize both Lebanon and Israel over the last 30 to 40 days,” he said.

News agency reports on Thursday from Iran said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had vowed that his country could not abandon its nuclear program while the United States was developing its own nuclear weapons.

The Iranian government denies that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is peaceful, for research and energy development.

Iran has said it set a deadline of next Tuesday to respond to an offer of economic incentives from six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in exchange for ending its uranium enrichment program.

But Mr. Burns dismissed the Tuesday deadline as a “mythical date.”

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