(photo credit: AP [file])
The International Atomic Energy Agency's vote Saturday to refer Iran to the UN Security Council met with the approval of many world leaders.
Most enthusiastically approved the motion, urging the international community to act hastily to prevent the nuclear armament of Teheran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel advised on Saturday to act without delay to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, saying that Iran had "blatantly crossed the line."
The chancellor compared Iran's nuclear policy to the Nazi party's rise to power in Germany, warning that in the past the nations of the world refused to take a stance against concrete threats, enabling some of history's greatest catastrophes.
Merkel also condemned Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his refusal to recognize Israel. "Any president that questions Israel's right to exist and questions the Holocaust cannot expect any tolerance from Germany," she warned.
Influential US Senator John McCain told America's allies Saturday that the military option could not be ruled out if diplomatic efforts fail to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.
"Every option must remain on the table," McCain told an international security conference. "There's only one thing worse than military action, that is a nuclear armed Iran."
Russia's Foreign Ministry on Saturday urged Iran to "respond constructively" to the UN nuclear watchdog's call for full cooperation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement that Moscow is calling on Teheran to "respond constructively to the (IAEA) board's call for full cooperation in resolving the remaining problems, including the restoration of a voluntary moratorium on all uranium enrichment works."
He did not mention an Iranian official statement saying Teheran considered Russia's enrichment offer dead following the IAEA decision to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Saturday urged the world to work for a "diplomatic solution" to halt the nuclear program of Iran, a nation he called the "leading state sponsor of terrorism."
According to prepared remarks for delivery at an international defense conference, Rumsfeld said the US stands "with the Iranian people, who want a peaceful, democratic future."
"The Iranian regime is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," he said. "The world does not want, and must work together to prevent, a nuclear Iran."
Rumsfeld painted a stark picture of a lengthy war against terrorism that lies ahead, appealing to allies to show unity and increase military spending to defeat the threat of a "global extremist Islamic empire."
"We could choose to pretend, as some suggest, that the enemy is not at our doorstep. We could choose to believe, as some contend, that the threat is exaggerated.
"But those who would follow such a course must ask: what if they are wrong? What if at this moment, the enemy is counting on being underestimated, counting on being dismissed, and counting on our preoccupation," Rumsfeld said.