Washington said the world rebuked Iran in a vote Saturday at the U.N. nuclear watchdog that reported it to the Security Council after Tehran underestimated international fears it seeks atomic bombs.
The United States also vowed to use the Security Council to intensify diplomatic pressure to make Iran curb its nuclear programs, which Tehran says are for the peaceful generation of electricity.
“It is a clear rebuke from the international community,” the State Department’s No. 3 official, Nicholas Burns, said in a conference call about the vote for reporters by American diplomats.
“Iran has been following a diplomatic strategy where it thought it was going to be able to go ahead with progressively important measures along the fuel cycle but it has miscalculated,” he added. “Clearly it did not predict the strength and the depth of international concern.”
A defiant Tehran pledged to retaliate over the International Atomic Energy Agency decision by curbing U.N. inspections immediately and pursuing full-scale uranium enrichment—which can be used to help build bombs or produce energy.
But the United States will not back down in the face of such threats, which were typical of Iran’s decision to choose confrontation over negotiation, senior U.S. diplomats said on the conference call.
Instead, the United States, which has not ruled out military action against the Islamic republic, will begin unspecified measures at the council starting in March to gradually press Iran to limit its programs.
“We are going to ratchet up the pressure step-by-step,” Burns said.
Washington succeeded after three years of efforts to have the Security Council take up Iran’s case, he said, even though Tehran “pulled out all the stops” to prevent America from enlisting major powers such as Europe, Russia and China to back the move.
The U.S. drive intensified after Iranian-European negotiations broke down last month.
Only the “gang of three” of U.S. adversaries—Venezuela, Cuba and Syria—voted against the IAEA resolution, Burns said.
“It has no other defenders in the world,” he added.