U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, SusanReuters

The United States sternly warned Iran Thursday that “time is running out” for its unsupervised nuclear program in what may be thinly-veiled support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has badgered President Barack Obama to set a “red line” for Iran.

"We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results. We must therefore remain clear and united in seeking resolution of the international community's concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program. Time is wasting," Ambassador Rice said told a United Nations Security Council meeting on nuclear sanctions against Iran.

She added, "Iran's approach remains to deny, to deceive and distract," AFP reported.

Support for the strong warning came from Britain, whose ambassador to the United Nations, Mark Lyall Gran, told the meeting that Iran is “at a crossroads.” France also backed the American position.

The Obama and Bush administrations have previously issued similar warnings, but the timing of Rice’s statement is significant. It follows a month-long campaign by Prime Minister Netanyahu to keep the Iranian nuclear threat in the headlines, resulting in an indirect confrontation between him and President Obama over “red lines” and deadlines, which the president has refused to set.

Rice’s harsh words also come exactly a week before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to deliver what has become an annual address to the opening post-summer session of the UN General Assembly.

The Western leaders at Thursday’s Security Council meeting also castigated Iran for delivering weapons to Syria and for its documented links to terror.  

A series of reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, have said Iran is stepping up uranium enrichment and not providing proof that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

No Iranian diplomat spoke at the meeting where Rice said the international powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and United States -- cannot pursue their nuclear talks with Iran "indefinitely.”

Britain’s ambassador Gran stated, "It [Iran] must make these choices soon” and “can continue to ignore the international community's concerns over its nuclear program, or it can negotiate a settlement that will help to realize the benefits of a civil nuclear program.”