Iran may face new U.N. sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, Britain and France warned Iran on Thursday that it would face further sanctions if it continued to flout international demands that it halt sensitive nuclear activities.

An Iranian operator (R) and a Russian operator monitor the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,215 km (755 miles) south of Tehran, November 30, 2009. REUTERS/ISNA/Mehdi Ghasemi

“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 Ambassador to the U.N. Gerard Araud told a U.N. Security Council meeting on Iran.

“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.”

The United States reiterated its position that Tehran might have to face new sanctions but did not touch on the question of when work on a fourth sanctions resolution should begin.

“Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council.

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

Iran rejects the allegations and says its atomic ambitions are limited to 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.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that the six powers would base a decision on whether to press for a new round of U.N. sanctions on an assessment of Tehran’s nuclear program and its response to their offer of economic and political incentives in exchange for an enrichment suspension.

Lyall Grant said he expected that assessment by the end of the year and a decision on how to proceed early next year.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip, editing by Eric Beech