(The Washington Times) - The world's leading powers, including Russia and China, joined the United States in expressing heightened concern yesterday over Iran's advancing its nuclear program in defiance of the United Nations, Trend reports.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Washington, urged the U.N. Security Council to take unspecified "strong steps" to preserve its credibility. The Russian government repeated its assertion that force could not resolve the dispute.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton went in more detail than Miss Rice, saying that Washington would seek a Chapter 7 resolution at the council. The chapter deals with threats to peace and allows the use of military force as a response.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran for the first time had succeeded in enriching uranium on a small scale, a key step in generating fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb. He warned yesterday that forcing Iran to suspend its enrichment program would "cause everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians."
The U.N. Security Council has set April 28 as a deadline for Tehran to halt enrichment activity, although no consequences have been specified.
Miss Rice reiterated those demands yesterday.
"This is not a question of Iran's right to civil nuclear power. ... The world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the technology that could lead to a nuclear weapon," she said, during a welcoming ceremony for President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea in Washington.
Asked whether the council would impose sanctions on Iran, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "That's a possibility as well, that's one option that's available."
Russia and China, key players to the Iran issue with veto rights at the Security Council, have thus far opposed sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that the use of force was no answer to the standoff with Iran.
"If such plans exist, they will not be able to solve this problem. On the contrary, they could create a dangerous explosive blaze in the Middle East, where there are already enough blazes," he said.
Russia and China rejected a Chapter 7 resolution yesterday, indicating that they are not ready to condemn Iran as a threat to international peace and security. "There is no reason for punitive measures yet," Russian Ambassador Andrei Denisov said at the United Nations.