Diplomats disappointed with Iranian refusal to halt uranium enrichment

Friday, October 6th 2006, 8:46 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Top diplomats from six major powers are deeply disappointed with Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and will discuss possible U.N. sanctions to force it to act, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said after a high-level meeting Friday.

Tehran had two choices when the United Nations demanded that it suspend enrichment, and ``we regret that Iran has not yet taken the positive one,'' Beckett said.

The representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China did not appear to have reached any clear decision on what to do next during more than two hours of talks.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's flight was delayed by mechanical difficulties, and a helicopter whisked her to the meeting, which was already under way. She did not appear afterward with Beckett, who reported on the outcome of the session.

A statement Beckett read stopped short of declaring that negotiations with Iran by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana's had failed, but said the diplomats were ``deeply disappointed that he has had to report that Iran is not prepared to suspend its enrichment-related reprocessing activities.''

Beckett said the six countries ``will now consult on measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter.''

Article 41 authorizes the Security Council to impose nonmilitary sanctions such as completely or partially severing diplomatic and economic relations, transportation and communications links.

The United States and Britain are leading the push for sanctions against Tehran. To avoid alienating the Russians and the Chinese _ both major commercial partners of Iran _ any measures are likely to be relatively mild, including embargoes on missile and nuclear technology, and possible travel bans and other penalties on Iranian officials involved in their country's nuclear program.

Britain's U.N. ambassador said Thursday that he expected ``the Iran dossier'' to return to the Security Council in the next week, but Beckett set no time frame for action.