The United States Thursday expressed disappointment over Iran's failure to comply with the U.N. resolution on its nuclear program, calling it a missed opportunity for the Iranian government and people. The State Department says consultations on follow-up action are already under way. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The determination by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei that Iran has not complied came as no surprise to the Bush administration, which has been consulting with allies on possible follow-on sanctions for several days now.
The White House expressed disappointment that Iran has refused to halt uranium enrichment, while State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said it is unfortunate that Iranian leaders are continuing to defy the interests of their own people by taking what he termed a "negative pathway" in the nuclear dispute.
"It's a missed opportunity for the Iranian government, and a missed opportunity for the Iranian people," he said. "I don't think, and I think it's abundantly clear to us that the Iranian people want to be engaged and involved in the rest of the world, and don't want to have barriers on their country's engagement, economically, politically or otherwise. And the policies that this government has adopted are taking them further and further away from that goal and from integration in the international community."
The IAEA report came at the end of a 60-day period set by the U.N. Security Council for Iran to halt enrichment activity or face additional sanctions, beyond the ones that now target that country's nuclear and missile programs and key individuals involved in them.
Spokesman Casey said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed possible additional sanctions with her European counterparts in Berlin late Wednesday, and that Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns was in contact with colleagues from the permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany.
The P5 plus Germany grouping last year offered Iran a variety of incentives, including help for a civilian nuclear power program if it dropped enrichment and other activity believed to be weapons related. Spokesman Casey said that offer remains on the table as well as a U.S. overture for direct talks with Iran going beyond the nuclear issue.
"The United States has never said, nor ever tried, to prevent Iran from having the benefits of a civilian nuclear power program designed to generate electricity for the benefit of the people of Iran," he added. "But all of us in the international community are convinced that there is certainly a lot more to what Iran is trying to do with its nuclear program than that, and Iran needs to be able to provide assurances to the international community that it is not using that program as a cover for developing a nuclear weapon."
Though it was approved unanimously by the Security Council, the December 23 U.N. resolution required painstaking negotiations and Casey said the U.S. pursuit of additional sanctions would be both within the U.N. framework and among like-minded allied governments.
The Bush administration has imposed its own sanctions on a number of Iranian banks and other entities believed associated with the nuclear program, and has urged European and Asian allies to do the same.