TEHRAN, March 17 (UPI) -- Iran still is ramping up its nuclear program as world leaders debate what course of action they should take regarding Tehran's ambitions, observers said.
The international community is running along a dual path -- focusing on maintaining diplomatic pressure on Iran and while trying to win agreement on new U.N. Security Council sanctions on the Islamic republic over its nuclear program, the Voice of America reported Wednesday.
The United States favors imposing tougher sanctions.
John Bolton, former U.N. ambassador under former President George W. Bush, said a show of force shouldn't be discounted.
"If you consider that the options we have are the use of pre-emptive force or Iran with nuclear weapons, you can see why military force unfortunately has to be on the table," he told VOA.
British Foreign Minister David Miliband said his country and China agree Iran should respect the non-proliferation treaty, as well as "on the means to achieve that, which is a combination of engagement and pressure."
Still, China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, have shown a reluctance to impose sanctions that could target Iranian insurance firms and banks, and impose travel bans on more individuals.
Conversely, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu favors strong action against Iran, whose president has called for the destruction of Israel.
"The stronger those sanctions are, the more likely it will be that the Iranian regime will have to choose between advancing its nuclear program and advancing the future of its own permanence," said Netanyahu, who won't rule out a military strike.
Even if sanctions are ineffective, Iran has to know there is a cost for its recalcitrant behavior, George Perkovitch of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told VOA.
"It may not change your behavior, but there is a cost for this action," Perkovitch said.