Accessibility links

US Diplomat Calls for New Sanctions Against Iran

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns has called for new sanctions against Iran because of its ongoing nuclear program. The call was made during a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara, where Burns met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey, which borders on Iran, is viewed by the United States as a key strategic ally in the region. Dorian Jones reports for the VOA from Istanbul.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns called for members of the United Nations Security Council to implement a third round of sanctions against Iran because of its contested nuclear program. Speaking after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Undersecretary Burns said the United States has the strong backing of France and the United Kingdom and is seeking support from Russia and China.

Burns said the U.S. is committed to a peaceful resolution of the dispute with Iran. He warned that sanctions can only succeed if fully implemented.

"If diplomacy is to be effective, we will need the support of all countries in Asia, in the Middle East , in Europe, to contribute to the sanctions against Iran," Burns said.

Washington says Iran is secretly building nuclear weapons, a charge that Tehran denies. Turkey, which neighbors Iran, is seen by Washington as a key ally in the region.

Turkey also borders on Iraq.

During the talks with Prime Minister Erdogan, Iraq was a key issue, especially Turkish concerns over bases in northern Iraq of of the Kurdish separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Ankara has been calling for the removal of PKK bases in northern Iraq, which it says are being used to launch attacks against government forces in Turkey.

Turkey has threatened a major incursion into northern Iraq to wipe out the PKK there.

In Ankara, Undersecretary Burns reaffirmed Washington's opposition to the PKK.

"The PKK is a vicious terrorist organization, it deserves universal condemnation. It will have no support from the United states, on the contrary," he said.

But Burns stressed the need for regional cooperation rather than military action to resolve the situation.

Analysts say that will come as a disappointment to the Turkish prime minister who has repeatedly called for direct U.S. action against the PKK. The issue is expected to come up when Prime Minister Erdogan visits the United States next week.

Since 1984, fighting between PKK guerillas and the Turkish military has killed some 30,000 people, mostly in southeastern Turkey.