Rice: Time is now to take Iran before Security Council

Secretary of State &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/88/354/16724_Condoleezza.html' target=_blank>Condoleezza Rice said Monday the time has come to send Iran before the U.N. Security Council over its disputed nuclear program, but she seemed to acknowledge that punishment may not be swift or entirely to the United States' liking.

"It has been our belief, and it is that of the Europeans as well and a number of other states, that the time has come for referral" to the powerful United Nations body, Rice said after a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini.

Calling the case for referral "very strong," Rice said the United States will push for it at a special meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency early next month.

She would not speculate on what action the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2001/11/14/20873.html' target=_blank>Security Council might take, or comment on whether the United States would be satisfied with an outcome less punitive than international economic sanctions.

"The Security Council can then take up the matter at a later time, but the referral absolutely has to be made," Rice said.