(photo credit: AP)
The failure of the six key powers at the UN to levy new sanctions on Iran was hailed on Monday by Iran as a sign of increased rationality in the discussion over its disputed nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters in a press conference that the lack of a decision over new sanctions means that Iran can continue working with the international community to allay concerns over the program.
Iran is "hopeful and ready to contribute to this rationality so that it will move in the right direction and reach the appropriate results," he said.
Mottaki added that "we now observe narrow stripes of rationality" by the foreign powers over the nuclear issue.
Iran argues that its nuclear program is aimed at creating a peaceful energy network to serve its growing population. The US and other nations believe the goal of the program is to create weapons.
The five members of the security council - the US, Britain, France, China and Russia - as well as Germany met on Saturday, but could not agree on levying a fourth round of sanctions on Iran.
The United States and its Western allies have been pushing for the new sanctions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday warned that Iran will face new sanctions
if it doesn't change tune on its nuclear program.
But Russia, and especially China, are skeptical of any new sanctions and have been holding out for further talks with Iran. As a result, the six powers have had to tread carefully to preserve a unified position.
The US and its allies are concerned at Iran's lack of cooperation with the UN nuclear agency and with its response to a resolution adopted by the agency's board of governors on November 27 which demanded that Teheran immediately stop building a secret uranium enrichment plant in Qom and halt further enrichment efforts.
The six nations are also concerned "at Iran's failure to take up the IAEA proposed agreement" to ship most of its uranium - up to 2,600 pounds (1,200 kilograms) - abroad.
The uranium would then be enriched to higher levels in Russia, turned into fuel rods in France and returned to power a research reactor in Teheran that produces medical isotopes. The material in the fuel rods cannot be enriched to higher levels, denying Iran the ability to use it to make weapons.