A report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Thursday found Iran to be generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history, but it warned that its knowledge of Tehran's present atomic work was shrinking.
The International Atomic Energy Agency report, released to its 35 board members, also confirmed that Tehran continued to defy the U.N. Security Council by ignoring its repeated demands to freeze uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to nuclear arms.
The White House said it would continue to push for a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran despite the findings.
“We believe that selective cooperation is not good enough,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.
She said the report indicated that Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities, and that Iran has continued to defy the international community.
“Iran continues to walk away from a deal that has been offered to them. We said they can have a civil nuclear program if they’ll just suspend their current activities,” she said.
But top Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili said the IAEA report shows that new sanctions against Tehran would be "illegal action."
He said Iran has answered all the questions by the IAEA and made "good progress" in cooperating with it.
In light of the IAEA report, "many accusations are now baseless," Jalili said, referring to U.S. claims Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. "Those powers who base their accusations on this I hope will reconsider what they say."
If new U.N. sanctions are approved, "you should be asking what is the logic in this," Jalili told reporters in Tehran.
Britain to pursue sanctions
But Britain's Foreign Office said shortly after the report was issued that it would pursue further sanctions from the Security Council and the European Union.
"If Iran wants to restore trust in its program, it must come clean on all outstanding issues without delay," the statement said. It also said Tehran must restore broader and stronger inspection rights to IAEA teams and mothball its enrichment activities to avoid such penalties.
Much of the 10-page report made available to The Associated Press focused on the history of Iran's black-market procurements and past development of its enrichment technology — and the agency appeared to be giving Tehran a pass on that issue, repeatedly saying it concludes that "Iran's statements are consistent with ... information available to the agency."
A senior U.N. official said that language did not mean that the IAEA's investigation into past enrichment activities was "closed," even though a work plan between the agency and Tehran set November as the deadline for clearing up the issue.
U.S. wants China to act
In Washington, the State Department suggested that China was blocking plans for a new meeting, tentatively set for Vienna on Nov. 19, of the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany to discuss a new sanctions resolution.
"Frankly, what we need now is for the Chinese to play a constructive role in scheduling the meeting, but also to have constructive, effective conversations about the elements of the resolution," spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"We're looking for them to play a constructive role," he said. "They have in the past and we're looking for them to again take up a constructive role in scheduling the meeting and once we have the meeting coming to agreement on the elements and language of the resolution."
McCormack declined to comment specifically on what China had told the other members of the group about the meeting to be held at the political directors level.