Reuters: The top U.S. envoy at the United Nations said on Tuesday that Iran’s latest statement on its nuclear program made it likely the U.N. Security Council would impose further penalties against Tehran.
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The top U.S. envoy at the United Nations said on Tuesday that Iran’s latest statement on its nuclear program made it likely the U.N. Security Council would impose further penalties against Tehran.
But Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said any action would wait for a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, due in late May.
“I suspect that if this approach continues, we will be back here escalating measures again,” Wolff said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday his country was now capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, which can be used for peaceful energy purposes or to make reactor fuel for a bomb.
Russia was quick to say it saw no sign the Iranians had made significant progress, a view echoed privately by Western experts who saw the boast as a public relations coup. But if true, Iran is defying two Security Council resolutions demanding it suspend enrichment programs.
“Yesterday’s rejection of the approach laid out in those resolutions, I think makes clear that Iran continues to disregard its obligations, to ignore the will of the council and therefore the international community,” Wolff said.
He said Ahmadinejad has heightened tensions. “I don’t recall one speech the president of Iran has ever made that has made things easier,” Wolff said.
The Security Council voted 15-0 on March 24 to impose new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions by banning Tehran’s arms exports and putting financial bans on individuals and institutions, including the state-owned bank and elite Revolutionary Guards.
The measures followed a December 23 resolution outlawing trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles, as well as freezing assets of some individuals and institutions associated with Iran’s atomic programs.
Ahmadinejad also spoke about reviewing Tehran’s policy of cooperation with the IAEA if the West continues to pressure Iran over its atomic program, which the United States and leading European nations believe is a cover for bomb-making.
Iran denies this, saying its projects are to produce electricity.
Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, explained later that Iran would be forced to review its membership of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the 1970 accord that obligates non-nuclear states to renounce the pursuit of atomic weapons.