Washington (CNN) – The United States Friday warned Iran that it is prepared to push for significantly stronger economic sanctions on Tehran in the wake of a resolution by the IAEA censuring Iran’s nuclear program.
“We are committed to putting together a package of consequences if we don’t find a willing partner," said senior administration officials authorized to speak with reporters on the condition their names not be used. "We hope Iran takes note of that clear message.”
The board of governors of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, passed a resolution Friday supported by 25 nations demanding Iran stop construction of its previously secret nuclear facility at Qom, and stop uranium enrichment which can be used for producing fuel for a nuclear device.
The resolution was endorsed by the so-called “P5+1”: the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. Until recently, Russia and China have resisted the push for imposing strong sanctions on Iran.
The officials said the resolution was “significant” because it underscores the “unity of purpose” among those countries. “There was an intensive diplomatic effort that went into this.” they said.
“It sends a strong signal of serious international concern about Iran’s continued non-compliance” with demands by the IAEA and to the UN Security Council, the officials said. “(Iran) is essentially not playing by international rules.”
The officials said the U.S. did not intend to hurt the Iranian people. Some critics of sanctions argue that stronger sanctions will only deepen the economic plight of Iranian citizens.
“Nothing that we contemplate or we would consider is aimed at causing greater harm for the Iranian people who have suffered enough as a result of repression of people’s efforts to express themselves peacefully since the elections on June 12th,” they said.
The officials would not confirm media reports that two senior U.S. officials, in China, warned Chinese officials that Israel might take unilateral action against Iran’s nuclear program. They did say, however, the United States has made clear its concern with the possible consequences of Iran’s non-compliance.
“The last thing the Middle East needs right now, with all the other challenges that face it is another source of insecurity and instability, and that is exactly where continued Iranian non-compliance is going to lead,” the said.
Despite the resolution and the tough talk, the officials repeated previous statements that the United States is "still ready to engage" with Iran, and that Tehran can reap benefits if it divulges full details of its nuclear program. Iran maintains that its nuclear development is solely intended for peaceful purposes.