Clinton: World powers to debate sanctions targeting Iran's elite
U.S. officials have signaled impatience with Tehran's balking at UN-drafted nuclear deal.
Six world powers will meet late this week to discuss sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday, according to French news agency AFP.
"The P5-plus-1 will reconvene in New York at the end of this week, and they will be exploring the kind and degree of sanctions that we should be pursuing," Clinton told reporters on her way to Hawaii.
The six world powers include the permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council and Germany. The group has been reaching out to Iran in a bid to force the regime to halt its uranium enrichment.
Clinton and other senior U.S. officials signaled increasing impatience with Iran's continued balking at a United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal to ship abroad low-grade nuclear fuel so it can be further enriched and returned to refuel a Tehran medical research reactor.
Clinton said the administration was contemplating sanctions that would target Tehran leadership's political and commercial base, but clarified that no decision had been made.
"It is clear that there's a relatively small group of decision-makers inside Iran," Clinton said.
"They are in both political and commercial relationships and if we can create a sanctions track that targets those who actually make the decisions, we think that is a smarter way to do sanctions," Clinton said."But that is all yet to be decided upon," she said.
Obama gave Iran until the end of the year to take up his offer of engagement, but U.S. officials have indicated there was no hard and fast deadline.
She appeared to dismiss reports that a diplomatic solution was in the works.
"We get a constant flow of feelers from the Iranians on approaches that they might consider," Clinton said when asked if there indications that the Iranians are more conciliatory.
Last week, China's UN ambassador Zhang Yesui said it was too early to contemplate new sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work, and called for more diplomacy.
China and Russia have been more reluctant to impose sanctions on Iran than the other four powers.