(Edited from AP, Quebec) Diplomats from the world’s leading economies say Iran’s recent actions deepen the doubts that its nuclear program is aimed at anything other than building a bomb, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton predicted Tuesday that world powers will agree on a new round of U.N. sanctions. China, long a holdout against new international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, also signaled its willingness Wednesday to consider a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, two U.S. officials said.

(Edited from AP, Quebec) Diplomats from the world’s leading economies say Iran’s recent actions deepen the doubts that its nuclear program is aimed at anything other than building a bomb, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton predicted Tuesday that world powers will agree on a new round of U.N. sanctions.
 
China, long a holdout against new international sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, also signaled its willingness Wednesday to consider a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, two U.S. officials said.
 
Closing a conference of foreign ministers from the G-8 industrialized nations, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said it is time to act.
 
Clinton said the nations meeting in Canada see a growing alarm around the world about the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran.
 
Clinton pointed to a string of disclosures over more than a year about the nature and extent of Iran’s once-secret nuclear program. Disclosure of the uranium enrichment facility near the Iranian city of Qum, the announcement of more facilities to be developed as well as revelations of greater efforts at enrichment are nudging the consensus toward sanctions, she said.
 
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged a heightened focus and stronger coordinated action, including sanctions if necessary, on the Iranian regime and said Tehran “must halt its nuclear enrichment activities and engage in peaceful dialogue.”

The G-8 group is France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia.
 
China, a vocal opponent of sanctions, wields veto power in the Security Council, and until recently it had balked at the mere suggestion of taking additional punitive steps against Iran. In an interview with Canadian television on Monday, Clinton said China shared the view of the U.S., its European allies and Russia that “a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable.”
 
President Barack Obama had said Tuesday he hoped to have Iran sanctions in place within weeks – a timetable that appeared highly ambitious given China’s reluctance to even discuss specific sanctions.
 
On Wednesday, however, two U.S. officials said that in a phone call among officials from the five permanent members of the Security Council – plus Germany – the Chinese representative said his country was prepared to discuss specific potential sanctions.  The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the diplomatic talks are ongoing.
 
One of the officials said China had made a “commitment” to discuss the specifics of a Security Council resolution, and that on that basis the U.S. would press ahead with an effort to pass such a measure. The officials cautioned that this does not mean there is yet a full consensus on U.N. sanctions.
 
The Obama administration is hoping to get a U.N. resolution by the end of April. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has not publicly cited a specific timetable but in recent days has sounded more optimistic about the chances of getting China to agree that new penalties are needed to force Iran’s hand.
 
“We see a growing awareness on the part of many countries, including China, as to the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran to regional and global stability, to our oil supply, and we think that there will be a consensus reached as to the best way forward,” Clinton told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa.

 

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