The five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany, the P-Five-plus-One, agreed Wednesday to consider new sanctions against Iran after another ambiguous Iranian response to their offer of incentives to halt uranium enrichment. The United States says a written Iranian response this week was a stalling tactic. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The announcement that the P-Five-plus-One will begin the process of seeking another sanctions resolution followed a telephone conference call of senior diplomats of the major powers, including U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns.
The political directors examined a one-page Iranian response sent Tuesday to European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana to an enhanced incentives package first presented in June, aimed at getting Iran to stop what U.S. officials believe is a weapons-related uranium enrichment project.
Iranian response viewed as stalling tactic
Iran was given additional time to respond after an ambiguous reply to the big-power diplomats in Geneva July 19. Both U.S. and European Union officials say the latest Iranian note again fails to give a definitive reply.
In a talk with reporters, State Department Acting Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the lack of a clear answer, once again, is very disappointing.
"The letter we received yesterday appears to be a stalling tactic," he noted. "The P-Five-plus-One reaffirmed a commitment to the dual-track strategy, and are agreed but we have no choice but to pursue further measures again Iran as part of this strategy. Given the absence of a clear, positive response from Iran and its failure to meet the deadline, the P5 plus one are discussing next steps in the U.N. Security Council and are beginning to consider the possible outlines of another resolution."
No time frame for new sanctions resolution
Spokesman Gallegos gave no time frame for development of a new U.N. sanctions resolution, while noting that the three previous measures against Iran required months of diplomacy.
Russia and China are understood to be reluctant to increase sanctions and Gallegos acknowledged that if the decision was one the United States could make alone, the process "would proceed at a different pace."
Tuesday's Iranian statement was leaked, apparently by Iran, to several news outlets.
It said the Tehran government is ready to provide a clear response to the offer, but only after the major powers provide clarifications to Iranian questions about the package.
Gallegos said the terms of the offer are already clear and that Iran is just trying to prolong the process.
The P-Five-Plus-One plan offers Iran, among other things, aid for a civilian nuclear power program, if it stops the enrichment drive. Iran contends its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and that it has a right to develop a complete uranium fuel cycle.