The new United States ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that Washington was committed to direct, "vigorous" diplomacy with Iran over its suspect nuclear program but warned Tehran of increased pressure if it refuses to halt uranium enrichment. Susan Rice told reporters that President Barack Obama's administration looked forward to "engaging in vigorous diplomacy that includes direct diplomacy with Iran, as well as continued collaboration and partnership with" the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany."
"We will look at what is necessary and appropriate with respect to maintaining pressure toward that goal of ending Iran's nuclear program," she added following her meeting with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to present her credentials. "Dialogue and diplomacy must go hand in hand with a very firm message from the U.S. and the international community that Iran needs to meet its obligations as defined by the Security Council and its continued refusal to do so will only cause pressure to increase," Rice added. The five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany have offered Tehran a set of economic and energy incentives in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment program which the West sees as a cover for seeking to build nuclear weapons. But Tehran is pressing on with its sensitive nuclear fuel work, insisting that its nuclear program is peaceful and solely geared toward electricity generation. The Security Council has already adopted four resolutions -- three of which included sanctions -- requiring Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.