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Western Allies Urge Tough Sanctions Pressure Over Iran Nuclear Issue

Workers at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant in August.
UNITED NATIONS -- The United States and its allies Britain and France have called for strengthened sanctions pressure on Iran amid continuing concerns over its nuclear program.

Western ambassadors at the United Nations on September 15 called on governments to provide more details on how they have been implementing the latest UN sanctions against Iran.

Four rounds of UN sanctions have been imposed against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment -- the latest round agreed in June. But UN reports say only 36 states have so far submitted reports on the implementation.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said a recent report from the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had renewed concerns that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. Washington has accused Tehran of trying to intimidate the IAEA.

China's deputy UN ambassador, Wang Ming, is quoted as saying major powers remain ready to start a dialogue with Tehran on settling concerns over Iran's uranium-enrichment program. Russia has also backed further negotiations.

Foreign ministers from the five veto-holding UN Security Council countries -- the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, and China -- plus Germany are expected to meet on the Iranian nuclear question on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting next week in New York City.

In an interview in Tehran with U.S. NBC television, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said further sanctions would not hurt Iran, as his country is capable of surviving without the United States and its European allies.

Iran denies any intention of making a nuclear weapon.

compiled from agency reports