US: No choice but for 'deeper' sanctions against Iran

The United States said on Wednesday there was “no choice” but for “further, deeper sanctions” against Iran over its controversial nuclear drive, as the European Union also called for a “clear response”.

“We hope that Iran will change its current course and seek the path of negotiations,” Washington’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Glyn Davies, told the UN watchdog’s 35-member board of governors.

“Not doing so leaves the international community no choice but to pursue further, deeper sanctions to hold Iran accountable,” Davies said.

Earlier, the European Union also called for a “clear response” to Iran, saying it was ready to support a further round of sanctions against the Islamic republic.

“Iran’s persistent failure to meet its international obligations require a clear response, including through appropriate measures,” according to a statement read out by Spain to the closed-door meeting.

“The European Union would support action by the UNSC [UN Security Council] if Iran continues not to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear programme. The European Union stands ready to take the necessary steps to accompany this UNSC process.”

The Iranian nuclear dossier was the main focus of debate on the third day of the board’s traditional spring meeting, after a toughly worded report by the IAEA’s new chief, Yukiya Amano, two weeks ago.

The United States, in particular, is currently spear-heading a campaign for a further fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran.

President Barack Obama’s administration, which has all but abandoned its initial hope to engage diplomatically with Iran, has already increased pressure on a reluctant China to back fresh action.

“While the United States has joined its international partners for more than a year in reaching out to Iran through direct diplomacy, Iran continues to resist all efforts to come to a negotiated settlement or to build any confidence in its intentions,” US ambassador Davies told the IAEA board.

“Iran continues to play a cat-and-mouse game with the IAEA,” Davies said.

“Far from having resolved the international community’s long-standing concerns, Iran’s provocative actions in further defiance of its obligations have deepened concerns.”

Spain, speaking on behalf of the 27-nation EU, similarly said the European Union “remains ready to engage with Iran in order to reach a negotiated solution to the issue, should Iran take concrete decisions toward that end”.

But it was ready to support further sanctions, if necessary.

Western nations fear Iran is covertly developing a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful.—AFP