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World powers discuss options should Iran miss nuclear deadline

From Elise Labott, CNN State Department Producer
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says others can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says others can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iran faces year-end deadline from other nations to address nuclear concerns
  • Permanent U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany discuss options
  • Iran yet to accept proposed deal on converting uranium abroad for medical reactor
  • Time running out for Iran to accept deal, White House spokesman says
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(CNN) -- World powers are discussing next steps toward Iran if it fails to meet a year-end deadline for addressing international concern over its nuclear program, the White House and State Department said Tuesday.

Top officials from the "P5 plus one" -- permanent United Nations Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany -- held a conference call Tuesday to discuss possible sanctions against Iran, Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told reporters.

He said the group "united its resolve that Iran must either answer the questions that we have about its nuclear aspirations or face additional pressure" and that Washington would be "consulting broadly across the international community in the coming days and weeks" about its options.

In October the six nations offered Iran a deal to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for conversion into fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that time is running out for Iran to accept the deal.

"The decision for them to live up to their responsibilities is their decision," Gibbs said of Iranian officials. "We have offered them a different path. If they decide not to take it, then the [nations that offered the deal] will move accordingly."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the offer Tuesday, telling Iranians in a speech in the southern city of Shiraz that the international community can give Iran "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care." He also accused the United States of fabricating a document said to detail Iranian plans for critical components of a nuclear device.

Gibbs countered his defiance, saying the international community is prepared to take additional steps if the year-end deadline passes without any Iranian action.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad may not recognize, for whatever reason, the deadline that looms, but that is a very real deadline to the international community," Gibbs said.

Western powers fear Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons, a claim Tehran denies.