Bolton warns Iran of "painful consequences"
U.N. ambassador says U.S. has upped measures to stave off nuclear threat

Updated: 3:40 p.m. ET March 5, 2006

WASHINGTON - Iran faces "tangible and painful consequences" if it continues its nuclear activities and the United States will use "all tools at our disposal" to stop this threat, a senior U.S. official said Sunday, ahead of a crucial international meeting on Iran.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, speaking at a convention of Jewish-Americans, said it is too soon for the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran but other countries are talking about doing so and Washington is "beefing up defensive measures to cope with the Iranian nuclear threat."

Monday"s meeting of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency governing board is expected to take stock of Iran"s continued defiance of U.S. and European demands to end sensitive weapons-related uranium enrichment activity and then hand the case over to the security council.

Security council concerns
Iran Sunday again threatened to begin large-scale nuclear enrichment if the case is taken up by the security council.

"The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve," Bolton warned.

"The Iran regime must be made aware that if it continues down the path of international isolation, there will be tangible and painful consequences," he told 4,500 delegates to the annual convention of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group.

He said Iran poses a "comprehensive threat" as a state sponsor of terrorism as well as a nuclear aspirant and so "we must be prepared to rely on comprehensive solutions and use all the tools at our disposal to stop the threat that the Iranian regime poses."

The United States has had sweeping sanctions on Iran since after the 1979 Iranian revolution but is looking at ways to further use its Proliferation Security Initiative to deny Iran materials it needs for its nuclear program, he said.

Bolton reaffirmed that the United States does not see the security council moving quickly to impose sanctions on Iran, but he pointedly noted that "many other governments have begun to include the word sanctions in their discourse on Iran," implying they may take action outside the security council.