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Iran's time 'running out,' says U.N.

UNITED NATIONS – In advance of next week’s General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council met and warned Iran that “time is running out” to comply with demands pertaining to Tehran’s nuclear “research” program.

The meeting, to hear a previously scheduled quarterly report on sanctions implementation, was used by Washington and London to issue a new challenge to the Iranian leadership.

Next week, all the principles are expected at United Nations headquarters.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Benjamin Netanyahu, Barack Obama and the U.K.’s David Cameron will all travel to New York to attend the 2012 General Assembly.

All have been invited to an annual “VIP lunch” hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The council meeting was used to lay out a road map for Ahmadinejad to accept or face unspecified “consequences.”

U.S.-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told members:

“Iran continues to enrich uranium to near 20 percent, a step closer to bomb-grade enrichment….These activities are all contrary to multiple resolutions by the Security Council.”

Rice continued:

“Iran knows the steps it must take to be in full compliance with its international obligations…Iran knows the actions needed to demonstrate full compliance…Yet, still Iran’s approach remains to deny, deceive and obstruct.”

The U.S. diplomat tacitly acknowledged that more than four years of punitive actions taken by the United Nations have fallen short when she explained:

“The Security Council must redouble its efforts to ensure the sanctions we impose are fully and mutually implemented.”

Aside from the controversial nuclear program, Rice told the council that Tehran has significantly contributed in propping up the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, economically and militarily.

Reports of weapons smuggling by Iran and scattered instances of Iranian troops on the ground inside Syria have grown in recent weeks.

Backing off from issuing a blunt threat of military action (something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to do next week), Rice explained that Washington’s patience is limited:

“We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results.”

British Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant echoed Rice’s concerns.

Grant explained that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s atomic watchdog, reported to the council that Iran’s atomic program “continues to develop in a direction that offers no assurance of peaceful intentions.”

The British diplomat laid responsibility for the worsening atmosphere clearly at the doorstep of the Iranian leadership:

“Responsibility for this lack of progress lies firmly at Iran’s door. At every step Iran has been uncooperative and obstructive.”

However, Grant, like Rice, stopped short of threatening any military action:

“They (Iran) have a clear choice: to address international concerns through negotiation and action, or face further economic hardship and isolation.”

The council meeting came as the U.S. leads an international naval contingent in the Persian Gulf rehearsing maneuvers that might be needed to secure shipping lanes should a conflict with Tehran erupt.

It also comes as both Jerusalem and Washington prepare for a high-profile media battle with the Islamic government.

Obama and Ahmadinejad will both address the U.N. next week, while the Israelis are sending their two highest level officials to New York.

Netanyahu will speak at the U.N., while deputy prime minister/defense minister Ehud Barak will attend the annual Clinton Global Initiative also in New York.

The CGI, scheduled to overlap with the U.N. gathering, brings political and business leaders together to discuss “world challenges.”

Barak is expected to “discreetly” try and gauge any international reaction to a prospective Israeli attack on Iran.

Late Thursday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Magariaf announced that they, too, will attend the Clinton summit.

Neither the Iranian or Israeli U.N. missions would respond for requests to comment on the warnings issued by Washington and London.