The United States said says it expects fellow members of the U.N. Security Council to live up to their agreement to sanction Iran, after it ignored the council's August 31 deadline to halt uranium enrichment. Officials of China and Russia have said this week that sanctioning Tehran may be counter-productive.
The Bush administration says despite possible wavering by Russia and China, it expects all members of the U.N. Security Council told hold to the deal they made and punish Iran for its non-compliance with council Resolution 1696.
That measure, approved at the end of July, gave Iran until August 31 to suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive activities and return to negotiations over its nuclear program or face sanctions.
The deadline passed without compliance by Tehran, which said while it is open to negotiations, it will not stop enrichment as a precondition.
The Chinese government said Tuesday it supported further discussions with Iran, with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao urging caution on sanctions, which he said could be counter-productive.
There were similar comments from Moscow, where Igor Shuvalov, a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said while his government had not closed to door to supporting sanctions, it believes they would probably have the opposite effect from what is being sought.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said while the Bush administration anticipates tough and intensive diplomacy over the sanctions issue, it expects that ultimately the parties to Resolution 1696 will fall in line and support its terms:
"The fact of the matter is that the P-5 Plus One have an agreement," McCormack said. "They made a deal. We would expect everybody, all members of that group, to live up to the agreement, as well as all members of the Security Council who made it very clear that if the Iranians do not comply with this, then we are headed down the pathway of greater isolation for the Iranian people, which is not something we desire."
Resolution 1696 was approved to reinforce an offer to Iran by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany of political and economic incentives to halt nuclear activity believed to be weapons-related and re-engage in negotiations.
Undersecretary of State Nicolas Burns is to join counterparts from the P-5 Plus One group Thursday in Berlin for a meeting to discuss a follow-on sanctions resolution.
That session of political directors of the six powers is expected to be preceded Wednesday by a meeting in Vienna between European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana and Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani.
Under questioning, Spokesman McCormack said the United States does not oppose that meeting and said the idea of keeping communications open with Tehran is laudable.
But he also warned the Iranians would like to indefinitely prolong the discussion process while pursuing what the United States insists is a covert nuclear-weapons program.
The Bush administration hopes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be able to wrap up the sanctions resolution when she attends to opening of the next U.N. General Assembly later this month in New York.