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Rice: Iranian Nuclear Move Requires Strong UN Steps


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iran's claims of an advance in uranium enrichment will require strong steps by the U.N. Security Council when it reconvenes on the issue at the end of the month. The secretary promised a steady U.S. diplomatic effort on the issue.

Secretary Rice says Iran's defiance of calls that it stop uranium enrichment will require strong action by the U.N. Security Council if the council is to maintain its credibility.

But Rice also says the United States is pursuing a steady diplomatic course on the issue, with officials saying the Bush administration is not seeking emergency action by the Security Council, despite Tuesday's Iranian announcement.

The secretary's comments added to a growing chorus of international concern about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertion that Iran was moving toward enriching uranium on an industrial scale for what Tehran says are peaceful purposes.

Rice addressed the Iranian nuclear issue in a talk with reporters as she began a meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, saying the Iranian leader's statement is just a step that will further isolate the Tehran government.

"It demonstrates that Iran is not adhering to the international community's requirements," she said. "And I do think that the Security Council will need to take into consideration this move by Iran, and that it will be time, when it reconvenes on this case, for strong steps to make certain that we maintain the credibility of the international community on this issue."

Rice said the Bush administration would be steady in its diplomatic track on the Iranian nuclear issue, because it believes that concerted and coherent diplomatic policy will convince the Iranians to return to compliance with international demands.

Earlier this week, administration officials downplayed news reports the administration was contemplating military action against Iran, though saying no options had been foreclosed.

The Bush administration has long said that Iran's nominally peaceful nuclear program has a concealed weapons component.

Rice said again the current conflict is not about Iran's right to have a civil nuclear-power program, but she said the world does not believe it should have the capability and technology that can lead to a nuclear weapon.

State Department officials said the United States is not asking for any change in the Security Council timetable for action on the Iranian issue.

The council is due to convene April 28 to hear a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran's response to the so-called president's statement it issued late last month calling on it to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

The officials said Rice telephoned IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to ask him to reinforce demands that Iran comply with its non-proliferation requirements when he told talks in Tehran later this week.

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