Deadline passes; U.N. holds off on sanctions
An EU diplomat will meet next week with Iran's top nuclear negotiator.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran defied a U.N. deadline Thursday to stop enriching uranium, opening the door for sanctions, but U.S. and other officials said no action would be sought before a key European diplomat meets with Tehran's atomic chief next week to seek a compromise.
Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, lashed out at the United States, calling it "tyrannical" and insisting Tehran would not be "bullied" into giving up the right to use nuclear technology. Other Iranian officials said the country could withstand any punishment.
President Bush called for "consequences to Iran's defiance," saying the "world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran."
"We must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," Bush said in a speech in Salt Lake City. He said Washington hoped for a diplomatic solution, but insisted "it is time for Iran to make a choice" whether to cooperate with the United Nations.
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Security Council would wait to consider possible actions until after the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, met with Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, sometime in the middle of next week.
"We're certainly ready to proceed here in New York when we're given the instructions to do so," Bolton said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also was expected to raise the issue during a visit to Tehran this weekend.
Thursday -- the last day of the Security Council deadline -- passed with no change in the Iranian position.
The formal trigger for possible sanctions was provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, Austria.
In a report Thursday, the U.N. agency confirmed Tehran had not halted uranium enrichment as demanded by the Security Council and said three years of IAEA probing had been unable to confirm "the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program" because of lack of cooperation from Tehran.
Iran denies it is trying to acquire atomic weapons in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, with the sole aim of producing electricity with nuclear reactors.
The Security Council voted July 31 to impose the Thursday deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and asked the IAEA to report on Tehran's compliance, dangling the threat of sanctions if Iran refused.
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