Rice: Security Council credibility in question if it doesn't act on Iran

The credibility of the U.N. Security Council will be in doubt if it does not take clear-cut action against Iran over Tehran's nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.

Rice made her remarks four days before the expiration of a United Nations deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment. That process can produce fuel for nuclear energy or material for nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has accused Iran of failing to answer questions about its nuclear program. In late March, it reported Tehran to the Security Council and gave it one month to address the demands.

"When the international community reconvenes after the 30 days, there has to be some message, clear message, that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, or you will start to call into question the credibility of what the Security Council says when it says it," Rice said while flying to diplomatic visits to Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.

Though the United States has said it prefers decisive steps, Security Council members Russia and China have opposed forceful sanctions. As permanent members of the council, either of those countries could veto any proposals.

"We'll continue to discuss this with the Russians and with others, but I expect that we're going to have to have some kind of action by the Security Council that demonstrates that this is a serious matter," Rice said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated Monday that Iran might withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on nuclear activities, and he predicted the Security Council would not impose sanctions on his country.

Meanwhile, a leading German legislator said the United States should delay "for some time" any U.N. Security Council action on Iran and talk directly to Tehran about its security concerns.

"We have time to be patient," Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the international relations committee of the German Bundestag, said before meetings in Washington with Undersecretary of State Nichols Burns and Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council, reports AP.

O.Ch.