The Bush administration is urging Iran to learn a lesson from the U.N.'s quick response to North Korea's nuclear-test claim.
2002, President Bush referred to Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil." But while he relied on military force to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was suspected of seeking weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Bush is continuing to focus heavily on diplomacy to deal with Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
When North Korea announced last week that it had conducted a nuclear test, the Bush administration was able to get a unanimous Security Council resolution in a matter of days - an unusually quick response by the world body. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton says there is a message in that resolution, not just for North Korea, but for Iran, as well.
"I hope the lesson they learn is that, if they continue to do nuclear weapons, they will face the same kind of isolation and restrictions that we have just imposed on the North Koreans," said John Bolton.
Speaking on CNN's Late Edition program, Bolton said Iran could avoid that isolation, if it accepts the offer made several months ago by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. That offer, put forward with the blessing of the Bush administration, provides a set of incentives to Iran, if it suspends its nuclear enrichment activities.
"This is an unparalleled offer that President Bush's administration has made that the Iranians spurned because they seem to be obsessed with the idea of getting nuclear weapons," he said. "And as long as they pursue that course, we will have to respond accordingly."
Iranian news reports quote President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying his country will continue its nuclear program, despite what he called threats and pressure from major world powers. He said demands that Iran suspend nuclear enrichment activities are illegal. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for the peaceful production of electricity.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the venue for diplomatic action on Iran will once again be the Security Council, which passed a resolution in July calling for Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment.
She spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.
"So, we are moving right along here from February when the IAEA - the International Atomic Energy Agency - said it was not acceptable for Iran to enrich and reprocess, through a resolution in July to a resolution now, within, I think, a few weeks here that will begin to impose costs on Iran for its continued enriching and reprocessing," said Condoleezza Rice.
Rice said work on a sanctions package has begun in various world capitals, and will continue later this week in the Security Council.