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US Answers Iran's Nuclear Defiance with Call for More UN Sanctions

The State Department says Iran's continued defiance over its nuclear program should be met with more sanctions resolutions in the U.N. Security Council. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says U.S. government officials have been meeting with their international counterparts to discuss sanctions on Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

He especially took issue with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent comments that Iran would continue to pursue its nuclear program despite U.N. sanctions.

"Iran continues to be defiant," said McCormack. "You've just given Exhibit A [a good example], in terms of President Ahmadinejad's remarks, saying that Iran is going to become a nuclear weapons state, in contravention of its treaty obligations. So if Iran continues down that pathway, if it persists in its defiance, then the international system is going to react."

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution in December sanctioning Iran because of international concerns that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. The measure prohibits the import or export of dangerous materials and technology that can be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It came nearly four months after Iran defied an earlier Council deadline to halt uranium enrichment.

McCormack said the United States is supporting moves in the Security Council to pass yet another sanctions resolution against Iran if Tehran continues to ignore U.S. and international concerns.

"I anticipate that is what the Security Council is going to do, coming up either next month or in September," he said. "We would certainly push for actions sooner rather than later on this matter."

Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors, Ernest Petric, told VOA he remains certain the Iranian nuclear crisis can be resolved diplomatically. He added that he believes talks on the issue are moving in what he described as the right direction.

But he said progress has been slow, though, and he urged Iran to be more forthcoming about its nuclear program and future ambitions.

"We want to have Iran as friend. We want to have Iran as a partner in use of atomic energy and atomic technology," said Petric. "It is a great future for atomic energy, atomic technology, for all of us. But to have this partnership, Iran should help us to clarify all the outstanding issues, which will prove that the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful."

Petric said the IAEA board meets in September, and will consider a report by director-general Mohammad El Baradei on whether there has been any progress in talks over Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA is the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency.