UN debate on Iran may start on March 13
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UN debate on Iran may start on March 13

US Undersecretary of State has said that the Security Council would begin debate on Monday or Tuesday on Iran's nuclear programme.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 17:47 IST

The State Department's top political official predicted on Wednesday that the UN Security Council would begin debate on Monday or Tuesday on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns also said there is almost unanimous international agreement that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, although Tehran says it wants nuclear capabilities only for energy production.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear enforcement panel of the United Nations, voted on Wednesday to refer the Iranian case to the Security Council for action. Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA's director, said the report would be sent to the council no later than Thursday.

"We believe that next Monday or Tuesday the United Nations Security Council will begin a very active debate about Iran's nuclear ambitions," said Burns, undersecretary for political affairs.

"That debate will be designed to shine a very large, intensive spotlight on what we believe to be a clear Iranian (weapons) program," he said.

Speaking at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee, Burns said US officials expect the Security Council to consider a statement of condemnation from the council president against Iran.

He said, however, the Bush administration would like to go "beyond that to entertain the possibility of a resolution to isolate and hopefully influence (Iran's) behaviour."

If Iran doesn't respond to words and resolutions, "then we believe that the world community should entertain the possibility of sanctions against Iran," Burns said.

"It's going to be incumbent upon our allies around the world and interested countries to show they are willing to act, should the words and resolutions of the United Nations not suffice," he said.

That might be difficult to achieve. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters Wednesday at the United Nations: "I don't think sanctions as a means to solve a crisis have ever achieved a goal in the recent history."

Russia has veto power that could stop passage of a sanctions resolution.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 17:47 IST