New Iran Sanctions Weighed

WASHINGTON -- Six nations agreed Wednesday to pursue new UN sanctions against Iran after it failed to accept incentives offered in hopes of defusing the dispute over its nuclear program, the U.S. State Department said.

The decision came during a conference call among senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said there was a consensus in the group that Iran's latest reply to the offer was "very disappointing" and "a stalling tactic."

"We agreed that we have no choice but to pursue further measures against Iran," he told reporters.

The council has already passed three sanctions resolutions against Iran. Despite that pressure and the threat of a fourth, it has yet to agree to stop enriching uranium in exchange for economic and other incentives being offered by the six countries: Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.

Gallegos said the incentives were still on the table but stressed that participants in the conference call had been displeased by Iran's response to the offer, a one-page document submitted Tuesday that was supposed to contain an acceptance or rejection of the package. The response repeated Iran's long-standing position that it has a right to peaceful nuclear activities and said it would not give a definitive answer to the offer until its own questions had been answered.