U.S. hopeful U.N. will approve Iran sanctions soon
(Reuters) The United States expects the U.N. Security Council to impose new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions in the coming weeks, despite objections from Russia and China, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said on Thursday.
Iran has defied financial and diplomatic pressure from the Bush administration and its European allies to halt uranium enrichment. Major powers are due to meet in Washington on Friday to discuss a third U.N. Security Council resolution to toughen sanctions on Tehran.
In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush said he still hoped to convince Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions through diplomatic means. But he said he would push for further sanctions against Tehran when he meets Security Council members in New York next week during the General Assembly session.
Khalilzad said the United States expected the issue to move from Washington to the Security Council within the next several weeks and that he expected an agreement in "the next few weeks."
"That's what we're working towards," he said in an interview with three news agencies. "The next few weeks are critical."
The Security Council has passed two sanctions resolutions against Iran. Washington is pushing for a third, harsher round of measures, which China and Russia oppose.
While Britain and France strongly back the U.S. position, other Europeans have qualms about more sanctions.