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World News

U.N. urged to move quickly on Iran sanctions panel

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations has been slow to set up a panel to monitor Iran’s compliance with U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program and needs to do so quickly, U.S., British and French envoys said on Wednesday.

In June, the U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program, which Western powers and other countries suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Iran rejects the allegations and insists its atomic program is intended solely for generating electricity. It refuses to stop enriching uranium, and Western officials say it continues to try to skirt the sanctions.

The council also agreed in June to set up an expert panel to present regular reports to the Iran sanctions committee on Tehran’s compliance, similar to those monitoring sanctions in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Korea and other countries. But that panel has yet to be named.

“We are concerned by the delay in setting up the panel, and we urge a renewed focus to enable this body to become operational as soon as possible,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the council during a meeting on Iran.

She also said the council and U.N. sanctions committee should “consider an appropriate response to Iran’s serial violations of Security Council resolutions.”

“These steps can improve sanctions implementation, and limit the risk posed by Iran’s arms smuggling, its development of nuclear weapon delivery systems, and the proliferation of sensitive nuclear and ballistic-missile-related items,” Rice told the 15-nation council.

‘SERIAL VIOLATIONS’

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and his French counterpart, Gerard Araud, echoed Rice’s concerns. Lyall Grant urged the council to “make every effort to operationalize this panel as soon as possible.”

Rice said Iran has continued to violate the sanctions, which are intended to prevent it from procuring technology for its nuclear and missile programs.

“Iran has repeatedly attempted to export arms in violation of (Security Council) resolution 1747,” she added.

“We are also concerned that Iran continues to engage in activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including conducting launches using ballistic-missile technology,” Rice said.

In Vienna, envoys from the United States and other Western powers accused Iran of trying to intimidate the U.N. nuclear watchdog by barring some of its inspectors.

Foreign Ministers from the Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States plan to meet on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York next week to discuss the latest sanctions on Iran, U.N. diplomats said.

Editing by Doina Chiacu

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