The United States says a U.N. Security Council vote increasing sanctions on Iran for failing to halt uranium enrichment could come as early as Saturday. U.S. officials say visas have been issued to allow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver a statement at the concluding council session on the resolution. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Officials here say that despite Iranian claims to the contrary, visas have been issued to allow Mr. Ahmadinejad and his entourage to attend the decisive council meeting in accordance with U.S. obligations as the United Nations host country.
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. visas for the Iranian president, other officials, and his security detail, were handed over to Iranian officials Friday morning in Bern, Switzerland.
He said visa applications for some of the Iranian leader's flight crew had been incompletely filled out, but that they would also be processed in time to allow Mr. Ahmadinejad to attend the council meeting.
The Iranian leader has visited U.N. headquarters in New York twice in the last two years for General Assembly speeches.
McCormack said the resolution, tightening sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program, is virtually complete and includes the core elements agreed upon earlier by the five permanent Security Council member countries and Germany.
McCormack said he anticipated a last-minute Iranian attempt to discredit the process. However, he said the rest of the world is losing patience with Iran's refusal to end uranium enrichment and return to negotiations over its nuclear program, which is widely believed to have a secret weapons component.
"They will do a lot of arm waving, they will throw up a lot of smoke. They will try to obfuscate and obscure the issue," he said. "But it gets down to one final irreducible point, and that is that Iran continues to defy the international community, and as a result we are going to pass a second U.N. resolution."
U.S. officials say the new resolution incrementally tightens sanctions contained in a measure approved in December, targeting Iran's nuclear and missile programs and key individuals involved in them.
It would bar Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of nearly 30 other business entities believed linked to the weapons efforts. Many are connected to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards corps.
Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, says it considers uranium enrichment a national right and will not cease such activity as a condition for negotiations.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned earlier this week, without elaboration, that Iran would respond with all its capacities to threats of coercion or violence over the nuclear issue.