Iran may face new U.N. sanctions

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:36pm EST
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, Britain and France warned Iran on Thursday that it may face new sanctions over its nuclear program, but Russia and China hinted that they were not convinced more punitive steps were needed.

The exchange of views during a U.N. Security Council debate on Iran showed how the Western powers' desire to ratchet up the pressure on an increasingly defiant Tehran over its atomic ambitions might face tough resistance from Moscow and Beijing.

"If it continues to refuse the slightest confidence measures, to refuse dialogue, transparency ... we must draw all of the necessary conclusions and that means that we must move on to a new resolution involving sanctions," French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told the council.

"There is no longer any reason to wait," he said.

The French envoy later told reporters that Paris was ready to begin drafting a resolution soon.

"We make a last call to the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to our offer of negotiation," Araud said. "If Iran doesn't do it on the short term, France will propose a new resolution of sanctions."

U.N. diplomats have said that senior officials from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- the six powers spearheading efforts to persuade Iran to halt enrichment -- might meet as early as next week to discuss Tehran, which the West suspects is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran rejects the allegations, along with U.N. demands that it suspend a program it says is intended solely for the peaceful generation of electricity. But Western officials say recent revelations about a previously hidden uranium enrichment plant in Iran have made Tehran's denials less credible.   Continued...

<p>Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listens to a reporters questions during a news conference in New York, September 25, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>