The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has called on the U.N. Security Council to impose tough sanctions on Iran if it fails to comply with arms agreements and Council resolutions. Senator Richard Lugar made comments in a speech to Council ambassadors at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Senator Lugar Monday reiterated to the Security Council that the United States favors a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue. Speaking two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to refer the issue to the Council, the influential Republican senator said the world must be decisive in responding to nations that violate international arms agreements.
"In the field of non-proliferation, decisions delayed over the course of months and years may be as harmful as no decisions at all. In this context, if Iran does not comply with U.N. Resolutions and arms agreements, the Security Council must apply strict and enforceable sanctions. Failure to do so will severely damage the credibility of a painstaking diplomatic approach and call into question the world's commitment to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons. The precedent of inaction in this case would greatly increase the chances of military conflict and could set off regional arms races," he said.
Senator Lugar's comment came as Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for more diplomacy to ease tensions over Iran's nuclear activities. Speaking in Dubai, Mr. Annan said the atomic energy agency's decision to refer Iran to the Security Council is not the "end of the road." He urged the Teheran government to take confidence-building measures before the IAEA report reaches the Council, which has the power to impose economic and political sanctions.
China's U.N. Ambassador, meanwhile, says his country, which has a Security Council veto, remains opposed to sanctions in principle. Ambassador Wang Guangya said he thinks that even with the adoption of the IAEA resolution, most Security Council members believe diplomacy remains the best solution.
But in a sign of defiance Monday, the Tehran government asked the IAEA to end its snap inspections of its military installations by the middle of February. The atomic agency said Iran had made the request Monday, in apparent response to the IAEA vote to refer Iran to the Security Council.