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. US to press for quick UN sanctions if Iran refuses halt to uranium enrichment
WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (AFP) Aug 17, 2006
The United States will move quickly for UN Security Council action on sanctions against Iran if Tehran refuses to halt uranium enrichment by the end of the month, a senior State Deparment official said Thursday.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rejection this week of a UN resolution demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment activity by August 31 was "not surprising."

He said the UN Security Council will take up sanctions under resolution 1696 if the deadline is not met.

"We would want to move very quickly," he told reporters.

"In the event Iran does not give an answer to the Security Council and does not comply with the conditions clearly enunciated by the Security Council, I think we'll want to move very quickly in the first part of September towards a debate in Security Council about sanctions, and they will be well deserved, because this has gone on a long time," he said.

Under the resolution, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed al-Baradei would first report on the status of the Iranian uranium enrichment program.

The United States and other western countries believe Iran is enriching uranium to use as fuel for nuclear weapons. But Iran insists the program is to make fuel for civilian reactors.

Iran has said it will reply by August 22 to a package of incentives offered by the five permament members of the UN Security Council plus Germany to halt its uranium enrichment program.

Burns said the United States has an agreement with other permanent members of the Security Council to seek sanctions if Iran fails to comply and "we're heading for that kind of a decision," he said.

Russia and China, however, were expected to argue in favor of further negotiations. An earlier UN Security Council deadline passed without action on April 28.

"I don't think it's a question of what the United States will have to do to pressure countries. We have an agreement with Russia and China and with the other members of the Council that we will go to Chapter 7 sanctions," Burns said.

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