UNITED NATIONS - The United States said yesterday that Iran has left the UN Security Council no choice but to increase sanctions on the Islamic Republic for ignoring demands that it halt sensitive nuclear activities.
The US declaration came a day after an informal deadline lapsed for Iran to respond to an offer from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia for talks on its disputed nuclear program.
"It is clear that the government of Iran has not complied with the international community's demand to stop enriching uranium and isn't even interested in trying," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations.
"They leave the Security Council no choice but to increase the sanctions, as called for in the last resolution passed."
Tehran has not formally responded to the offer. But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said Saturday that his country would not back down in its nuclear dispute with the powers, which have supported three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions.
"In whichever negotiation we take part . . . it is unequivocally with the view to the realization of Iran's nuclear right and the Iranian nation would not retreat one iota from its rights," Ahmadinejad said in a statement.
The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian power program.
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, says its uranium enrichment drive is aimed solely at generating electricity.
The five permanent Security Council members and Germany have appointed Javier Solana, the European Union's chief of foreign policy, to be their liaison with Iran.
A spokeswoman for Solana said in Brussels that he and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, would discuss the six powers' offer soon.
"We expect a contact between Mr. Solana and Mr. Jalili soon by phone," the spokeswoman said. She gave no further details.
Western officials gave Tehran two weeks from July 19 to respond to their offer not to impose more UN sanctions on Iran if it froze any expansion of its nuclear work.
That suggested a deadline of Aug. 2 but Iran, which has repeatedly ruled out curbing any of its nuclear activities, dismissed the idea of having two weeks to reply.
The US delegation at the United Nations might have to put some pressure on the rest of the council to discuss Iran again. Diplomats from some of the 14 other council members have said they would prefer not to enter into negotiations on another round of sanctions against Iran at the present time.