Iran Nuclear NewsIntense diplomacy to step up UN sanctions on Iran:...

Intense diplomacy to step up UN sanctions on Iran: US

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AFP: The United States expects intense diplomacy in coming weeks for plans to step up UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the State Department said Monday. WASHINGTON, June 11, 2007 (AFP) – The United States expects intense diplomacy in coming weeks for plans to step up UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, the State Department said Monday.

“I don’t have a specific timeline regading action in the Security Council but I expect there is going to be something that would result in more active discussions in the coming weeks up in New York and in capitals,” said department spokesman Sean McCormack.

The heightened diplomatic efforts come amid calls for a third set of UN sanctions after Tehran again failed to obey a Security Council deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear fuel but also atomic weapons.

The sanctions imposed by the New York-based United Nations over the past half year target Iran’s ballistics and nuclear industries.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear drive is entirely peaceful and it just wants to generate energy for a growing population.

US Undersecretary of State Nick Burns would raise the Iranian nuclear issue with his counterparts from Germany, Britain, France and Italy at a meeting in Paris this week, McCormack said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also has been talking to her counterparts on the issue in the past couple of weeks, he said.

McCormack also said the United States had been discussing with its allies stepping up a financial squeeze on Iran, outside the ambit of the Security Council.

They are “quite useful to send a strong message to the Iranians that this is not business as usual and the world will not tolerate Iran developing nuclear weapons,” he said.

Among the UN sanctions so far are a freeze on financial assets of Iranians involved in illicit atomic and missile research.

Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution to the nuclear question but has not ruled out a military intervention and has placed sizeable naval forces in the Gulf.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been holding talks with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in the past weeks to find a solution to the crisis, but they have failed to break the deadlock.

However, both men have spoken of progress in the talks and agreed to meet again soon.

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