Germany and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, Russia, the United States, Britain, France – are discussing imposing more sanctions on Iran. The reason is that the Iranian government has refused to comply with repeated U.N. demands that it suspend all uranium enrichment-related and heavy water-related activities -- processes that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.
In addition to U.N. sanctions, the United States has taken action to restrict the Iranian government's ability to finance its nuclear proliferation-sensitive activities and to support terrorism.
White House spokesman Dana Perino says that President George W. Bush believes that "our problems with Iran can be solved diplomatically." The U.S., says Ms. Perino, is "encouraging people to tighten economic sanctions in order to put pressure on Iran to comply with its obligations."
Washington is not acting alone. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says other countries have also taken action against Tehran:
"For example, Germany has reduced its level of export credit support for trade with Iran. Other states have taken unilateral actions. We're also working on a bilateral basis with states in talking to them about how we might cooperate to make it more difficult, if not impossible for Iran to use the international financial system for illicit purposes."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that "credible" sanctions imposed on Iran are the way to resolve the nuclear issue. He said France "will be happy if there are new U.N. sanctions." Otherwise, said Mr. Kouchner, European nations, independent of the Security Council, should prepare to impose sanctions on Tehran.