As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to take the podium at the United Nations, the British foreign secretary announced the international community expects a "serious response" from Iran at next month's talks in Geneva.
Ahmadinejad's remarks made only a passing reference to the tensions between his country and the west over Iran's nuclear ambitions. But it was topic number one when the P5 + 1, or the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States - plus Germany, met this evening in New York.
"We expect a serious response from Iran and will decide...as a result of the meeting, on our next steps," David Miliband said, reading a statement agreed upon by the foreign ministers, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The powers are to hold talks on October 1 in Geneva over Iran's suspected plans to obtain nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains it will not negotiate uranium enrichment and that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful, civilian use. But the leaders at the UN remain unconvinced, "Iran's nuclear programme remains a matter of serious concern to the international community," Miliband read.
Secretary Clinton who spoke to reporters following the meeting, echoed the group's written statement, and warned Iran should come to the October 1 meeting "ready to engage in substantive discussions" and the next step, "depends on Iran's response."
While Clinton wouldn't detail what a next step could look like, she stressed there would be consequences if Iran doesn't show progress. "We want to see a serious effort by Iran to discuss the nuclear issue," the secretary said, and added Iran must realize it is "at a turning point" and invite the IAEA to see and verify its total nuclear program.
While Ahmadinejad's remarks didn't extrapolate on its nuclear ambitions, they were nonetheless controversial, and typical for Iran's president, targeting Israel and the West. Four delegations walked out during the Iranian president's remarks including the United States and Canada.
The US Mission to the UN was quick to react. “It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric,” said spokesman Mark Kornblau.
Tomorrow the UN Security Council will meet and is expected to adopt a resolution, unanimously, calling for a more intense global effort to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation. The session will be lead by President Obama who met today with Russian President Medvedev. The two leaders spoke extensively about Iran. Russia, who has economic and past nuclear ties to Iran, has stood in the way of stronger actions against Tehran. But today Medvedev, after meeting with Mr Obama, said that "in some cases sanctions are inevitable."