The statement requests that the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, report back in 30 days on Iran's compliance with demands to stop enriching uranium, a process that can lead to the development of a nuclear weapon.
The statement offers no indication of what the Security Council might do if Iran fails to halt such work.
John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the council's statement sends a clear message to Iran.
"The message we're sending is a message to the government of Iran, that has been pursuing nuclear weapons - a very clear message that we want a response from the government of Iran," Bolton said. "And the response we want is full compliance with the obligations it voluntarily undertook under the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty."
Iran's UN ambassador, Javad Zarif, who was denied a chance to address the Security Council, told reporters that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons but will not abandon its right to nuclear energy because of international threats.
"Iran will want to cooperate with the international community, but it does not accept pressure or intimidation," Zarif said. "As I said, and I repeat: We are allergic to pressure and intimidation and we do not respond well to that.”
The Iranian nuclear issue is expected to be discussed in Berlin later today during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the permanent five Security Council members, plus Germany.
(compiled from agency reports)
What Would Sanctions Mean?
Economic sanctions could further undermine Iran's already shaky economy (Fars)
MOVING TOWARD SANCTIONS: If the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on Iran, domestic support for Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will wane, according to ALEX VATANKA, Eurasia editor for Jane's Information Group.
Vatanka told a February 24 RFE/RL briefing that "economic sanctions will hurt the average Iranian" and, consequently, many "will blame the ruling clerics" for making life difficult and "impairing the country's long term development."
Vatanka said sanctions would be a serious challenge to the Iranian government. If harsh economic sanctions were imposed, Iran's poorest population will be hurt the hardest -- and might react "as they did in the 1970s and protest in the streets." Sanctions on travel, Vatanka said, would hurt a many Iranians because "Iran is a nation of small traders" who depend on the ability to travel to earn an income. According to Vatanka, unemployment in Iran is estimated at 30 percent, "so small trading is essential to survival." Although current U.S. sanctions "haven't worked," he said, "Iranians fear an oil embargo." He stressed that "oil revenues are a major part of the economy, so it is critical to look at this sector."
Should negotiations with the European Union and the UN fail, Vatanka believes that Iran would follow a "North Korea model," since Ahmadinejad's base of support among the "Islamist militias" has been "urging withdrawal from the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]." The Iranian government's "tactic" so far, Vatanka said, is governed by the belief that "by shouting the loudest, you'll get concessions [from the West]."
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