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US Urges Governments To Take Tougher Steps Vs Iran After UN Move December 23, 2006

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–The Bush administration said Saturday it hopes the U.N. resolution penalizing Iran for its nuclear enrichment program will clear the way for tougher measures against Tehran by individual countries, particularly Russia.

“We don’t think this resolution is enough in itself,” Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said. “We want the international community to take further action. We’re certainly not going to put all our eggs in the U.N. basket.”

Approval of the resolution under a part of the U.N. Charter that makes it binding is “going to be humiliating for Iran,” Burns told reporters after the unanimous vote.

Burns said the resolution takes away a main argument against bilateral penalties by individual countries, which have told U.S. officials that they couldn’t do so until the U.N. acted. The administration wants other nations to join the U.S. and stop selling arms to Iran and to limit export credits to Tehran, he said.

“We want to let the Iranians know that there is a big cost to them,” Burns said, so they will return to talks.

Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, has close economic ties with Iran and has favored diplomacy over punitive penalties.

“We hope the Russian government is going to work with us in a very active way to send this message of unity to Iran and we hope Russia is going to take a very vigorous approach itself,” Burns said.

The resolution imposes an asset freeze on a list of companies and people in the country’s nuclear and missile programs – a move that Burns described as the measure’s most important part.

But the text was altered in that area to satisfy Russia, specifying the prohibited materials and technology and identifying those individuals and companies affected.

Neither President George W. Bush, spending the holidays at Camp David and meeting with advisers on a new Iraq plan, nor the White House offered immediate comment on the vote.

The Islamic republic immediately rejected the resolution.

Before the U.N. action, Bush took a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders “stressed the importance of maintaining a unified position on Iran’s nuclear program,” according to Blain Rethmeier, a Bush spokesman.

A reference in the original draft of the resolution to Iran’s first atomic power plant, being built by Russia and expected to go on line late next year, was removed to ensure Moscow can conduct legitimate nuclear activities in Iran.

The U.S. is convinced that the ultimate goal of Tehran’s nuclear activities is the production of nuclear weapons and would have preferred tougher penalties.

“And yet we feel very strongly that having achieved this, this is a powerful message to Iran,” Burns said.

Iran insists it is pursuing the peaceful production of nuclear energy and has said it will not give up the program.

The resolution orders all countries to ban the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

It orders Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, an important part of the process of building nuclear weapons, and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency’s head will report to the Security Council by Feb. 21 on whether that happened.

A positive report would suspend the punishment and allow negotiations to resume. The U.S. and its European allies have proposed offering Iran economic concessions in exchange for halting uranium enrichment.

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