Iran defies U.N. on nuclear program

Published May 16, 2007

VIENNA - Iran persists in its brazen defiance of U.N. Security Council demands that it halt uranium enrichment, the chief U.S. nuclear envoy warned Tuesday ahead of a fresh assessment that could lead to tougher sanctions against Tehran.

Gregory L. Schulte said Washington "would welcome a report verifying that Iran has suspended its enrichment-related activities" when the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, delivers its latest update by early next week.

"Unfortunately, I don't foresee such a report, " Schulte said in a speech at the University of Vienna, calling Iran "a blatant case of noncompliance" with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

Agency inspectors who visited Iran's main nuclear facility at Natanz on short notice Sunday found evidence to suggest that it may have overcome technological challenges and started enriching uranium on a significantly wider scale, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Friendship committee: A group of Iranian lawmakers wants to create a "friendship committee" that would open contacts with the U.S. Congress. Proponents hope the effort. will be condoned by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in national matters.