US to pursue new Iran sanctions despite auditors' questions

The Bush administration will not back down on pursuing new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program despite questions about their usefulness raised by government auditors, US officials said Wednesday. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will press Washington's case for fresh UN sanctions next week in Europe which considers imposing more penalties of its own to step up pressure on Teheran to halt activities that could lead to the development of a nuclear weapon. Announcing Rice's Jan. 22 meeting in Berlin with her foreign minister colleagues from the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, the State Department said Wednesday the United States had no plans to change its sanctions strategy in dealing with Iran even after Congress' investigative arm said the impact of the policy was unclear.