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US Official Says Talks on Iran Sanctions to Begin Next Week


A senior U.S. official says work on a new U.N. Security Council resolution to sanction Iran for refusing to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities will begin in a few days.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told British radio Saturday that he is "confident" the international community is now headed toward a sanctions resolution on the Iranian nuclear issue. He said negotiations would define the exact nature of the sanctions.

His remarks follow Friday's meeting in London of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany. The six world powers agreed to discuss possible sanctions against Iran, after it ignored an August 31st deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, or face punishment.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who chaired Friday's meeting, cited "deep disappointment" with Tehran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment -- a key step toward making nuclear weapons. She commended E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana for the series of talks he has held over the last months with Iranian negotiators to try to get Tehran to accept a package of economic incentives, in exchange for halting nuclear enrichment.

"We commend Javier Solana for his tireless efforts to find a way forward, but we are deeply disappointed that he has had to report that Iran is not prepared to suspend its enrichment-related and re-processing activities, as required by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] board, and made mandatory in [U.N.] Security Council Resolution 1696. Accordingly, we will now consult on measures under Article 41 of Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter as envisaged in that resolution," she said.

That provision authorizes the Security Council to impose sanctions that do not involve the use of force, such as economic and diplomatic penalties.

Secretary Beckett said Iran had two paths to chose from, and the six powers regret that Iran has not yet chosen the positive one. "We will continue our efforts to find a negotiated solution, and our proposals of the first of June remain on the table," she said.

But Iran says the pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology is its legitimate right, and dismisses U.S. allegations that it is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons. On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would not be frightened by the threat of sanctions.

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