The agreement contained the tough language demanded by the United States with the compromise sought by Britain, France and Germany, who argued that Iran should be rewarded for cooperating with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We welcome that resolution and believe that it underscores the international community's serious concerns with Iran's nuclear activities and the urgent requirement of Iran to come into full compliance with nuclear non-proliferation obligations," said a White House spokeswoman, Claire Buchan, in Crawford, Texas, where President George W. Bush is spending Thanksgiving.
"We feel that this is a strong resolution, we welcome it, and there is no doubt that it means referral to the United Nations if there were further failures," she said.
The IAEA resolution acknowledged that Iran had failed to meet its obligations to report on nuclear material and its processing and use over a long period. But the agency agreed in a unanimous decision not to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
That opened the way to continued cooperation with Iran, said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a statement.
"I welcome this resolution," he said. "It is an important step forward in the international community's efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons."
Straw said the outcome had been influenced by a recent trip to Iran by himself and his colleagues from France and Germany.
A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said: "France is very satisfied with this resolution. Its content is balanced."
The resolution "delivers a very firm judgement on the past activities of Iran in the nuclear domain and encourages it to continue and to confirm its choice for a new policy of transparency and cooperation with the international community", the spokesman added.
But Israel, which feels it is directly under threat by Iranian nuclear activities, was less enthusiastic.
"We are still studying this resolution but we will continue to follow closely the worrying attempts by Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction, as is the international community as a whole," foreign ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said.
"We will have to see if Iran reveals, or if it is revealed, what it has been up to," Peled added.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said his government was "not satisfied with all the parts of the resolution, but the main thing is that we were able to keep this issue under examination at the IAEA without it being sent to the UN Security Council as some countries wanted."
He said that to refer the programme to the UN Security Council, as the United States had wanted, "would only complicate an already complex situation".
Russia has been heavily involved in building Iran's only nuclear reactor, over strong objections from the United States.