World powers push ahead with Iran sanctions
(Reuters) - Six world powers agreed on Friday to push ahead with a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran unless reports this month indicate Tehran has tried to address their concerns about its nuclear program.
Senior officials from Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China will meet again on November 19 to assess reports from Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. atomic watchdog, and from European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said.
"Political directors agreed to finalize a text for a third U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution with the intention of bringing it to a vote in the U.N. Security Council unless the November reports of Dr. Solana and Dr. ElBaradei show a positive outcome of the efforts," the spokesman said.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department said it was disappointed by the stance of China and Russia -- which have resisted tightening Security Council sanctions against Iran -- and wanted the diplomacy to "move more quickly."
Iran has refused to halt uranium enrichment after two previous U.N. sanctions resolutions and denies it wants to make atomic bombs, saying its programme is for power generation.
But in a potential step forward, Iran's ISNA news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying Tehran would be ready to join a body that would provide enriched uranium for users in the Middle East.
A top Saudi official discussed the idea in a magazine interview this week as a way to defuse Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, saying power plants would receive only the fuel they needed to ensure none would be used for atomic weapons.
Britain said on Friday the top officials had asked Solana to seek a further meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and to report back.