Reuters: Iran should be "brought to account" on its nuclear program, but Washington is open to ideas other than taking it
to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions, U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Wednesday. Reuters

TOKYO - Iran should be "brought to account" on its nuclear program, but Washington is open to ideas other than taking it to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Wednesday.

Diplomats have said that the European Union had agreed on Monday to prepare a package of "carrots and sticks" to get Iran to comply with demands by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspend its uranium enrichment activities -- a process that can be used to make material for atomic bombs.

Washington is working with the EU on the plan in a final effort to get Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, but has been said unlikely to offer an new incentives of its own.

"The Iranians ... have made a decision apparently to hide, to continue to hide their program and indeed, in addition to that, they have made some very scurrilous statements publicly," Armitage told a news conference in Tokyo.

"We hold the view that Iran needs to be brought to account and we would like to move to the U.N. Security Council after the November (IAEA) board of governors' meeting," Armitage said.

"But we're open to all ideas that people have because one thing has become clear and that is that we all share -- the G8 (Group of Eight) -- the same end, the desire, and that is that Iran should be free of nuclear weapons and be transparent and let the international community have sufficient confidence that that is the case," he added.

Armitage and Undersecretary of State John Bolton will meet officials from the Group of Eight industrial countries to discuss the issue Friday in Washington.

Armitage is in Tokyo for bilateral security talks with Japanese officials and to attend an international donors conference on Iraqi reconstruction.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Tuesday that the EU could not force Tehran to give up its right to enrich uranium, dealing a blow to Europe's efforts to halt the process.

"It is wrong for them (the EU) to think they can, through negotiations, force Iran to stop enrichment," Kharrazi said.

Iran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation and says it wants to master the full fuel cycle, including enrichment, so that it does not have to rely on imported fuel.

Washington believes the program is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Officials in Washington have said the United States wanted a commitment from the Europeans that they would back sanctions if Iran insists on continuing its nuclear activities.

Iran is preparing a large batch of raw uranium ready for enriching and has resumed building enrichment centrifuges in defiance of a previous deal with Britain, Germany and France.

The IAEA last month called on Tehran to halt such activities and said it might be sent to the Security Council if it failed to do so by the next IAEA board meeting on Nov. 25.