The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted Saturday to impose further sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.
Iran immediately dismissed the sanctions and said it had no intention of suspending its enrichment program, prompting the United States to warn of even tougher penalties. "The world must know - and it does - that even the harshest political and economic sanctions or other threats are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Security Council after the vote. "Suspension is neither an option nor a solution."
Mottaki stated his country would return to negotiations table over its nuclear program only if the United States and its European allies dropped the "unfair and unacceptable precondition" that it first suspend uranium enrichment.
The minister reaffirmed Iran's right to conduct uranium enrichment as enshrined by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Tehran signed.
The tougher sanctions include banning Iranian arms exports, and freezing the assets of 28 people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
"It's a significant international rebuke to Iran and it's a significant tightening of international pressure on Iran," said Nicholas Burns, undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department. If Iran does not comply, "there's no question" that the United States will seek a third and tougher resolution, he added.
Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said nations involved in the dispute had asked him to resume contacts with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani "to see whether we can find a route to negotiations." "The door to negotiations is open; I hope we can together find a way to go through it," Solana said in statement.