France urged immediate action to adopt tougher United Nations sanctions against Iran to halt its nuclear program, while China and Russia called for patience and further negotiations with the government in Teheran.
"There is no longer any reason to wait," Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council Thusday. Araud said Iran's continued defiance of UN resolutions demanding a halt to uranium enrichment means the Security Council "must move on to a new resolution involving sanctions."
The Security Council, meeting to assess Iran's compliance with previous resolutions, heard a report on the seizure of two recent shipments of Iranian arms bound for Syria. The shipments, both chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, violated the UN arms embargo on Iran.
"We make a last call for Iran to respond to our offer of negotiations," Araud said of Iran's refusal of an offer to receive enriched uranium it needs for a medical reactor from abroad. "Iran places itself in a dangerous stalemate. The time has come to increase this pressure."
The five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- have tried to convince Iran to scale back its nuclear program, which they say is a cover for weapons development.
US Ambassador Susan Rice and British Ambassador Mark Lyall-Grant took a less confrontational position, saying only that they would have to consider further actions in the event Iran doesn't abide by UN resolutions and begin talks on its nuclear program.
"Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions," Rice said.
"Patience is running out," Lyall-Grant said.
Chinese and Russian envoys said the situation calls for further consideration.
"We need to be patient, calm, not emotional," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Iran announced on Nov. 29 that it will increase its enrichment program by building 10 new plants, a goal nuclear experts say the country isn't capable of achieving.
On Nov. 27, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency censured Iran for concealing an enrichment plant, with the permanent Security Council members all voting for the motion.