US does not rule out sanctions against Iran
Iran has said that it will begin uranium enrichment in response to being reported to UNSC.india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 13:51 IST
A senior US diplomat refused on Monday to rule out sanctions against Iran outside the framework of the United Nations if the world body is unable to deter Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The Islamic republic has said that it will begin large-scale uranium enrichment, the focus of fears it is seeking nuclear weapons, in "due course" in response to being reported to the UN Security Council.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Kurt Volker said it would be better for the West to work within the UN, but he left open other options if Tehran continues its sensitive atomic activities.
"We may get to the stage where we would agree in the UN on sanctions to apply to Iran, if they continue to reject cooperation with the international community and continue to pursue uranium enrichment within Iran, which can really only be justified as necessary for a nuclr weapons programme," he said.
"If the UN doesn't do that, I think we will face questions about, well, what do we do, because it is a very serious threat," he said.
Volker suggested that the European Union or the United States would be within their rights to apply "sanctions to a country such as Iran."
"That's a matter of choice that the US has made a long time ago and that the European Union is perfectly within its rights to make."
Iran maintains that it only wants to generate atomic energy.
But the process of enrichment, which involves feeding uranium gas through cascades of centrifuges to make reactor fuel, can be extended to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.
Iran agreed to suspend this work and centrifuge assembly in 2003 and 2004.
The current crisis was sparked by Iran's decision last August to resume uranium conversion -- which makes the gas fed into centrifuges -- and start laboratory-scale enrichment on January 10.
Tehran's latest stance comes in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decision on Saturday to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.