Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged the world to work for a "diplomatic solution" to halt the nuclear program of Iran, a nation he called the "leading state sponsor of terrorism," during a speech in Munich, Germany Saturday.
The decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board sets the stage for future action by the top U.N. body that could include economic and political sanctions. Still, any such moves were weeks if not months away, with two permanent council members, Russia and China, agreeing to referral only on condition that no council action be taken until at least March.
In response, a senior Iranian official says his country will "immediately" start full-scale uranium enrichment and reduce IAEA access to his country's nuclear program.
The resolution submitted to the 35-nation board of the IAEA expressed "serious concerns about Iran's nuclear program." It recalls "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations" to the nonproliferation treaty. And it said "the absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
According to prepared remarks for delivery at an international defense conference, Rumsfeld said the U.S. stands "with the Iranian people, who want a peaceful, democratic future."
"The Iranian regime is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," he said. "The world does not want, and must work together to prevent, a nuclear Iran."
Rumsfeld painted a stark picture of a lengthy war against terrorism that lies ahead, appealing to allies to show unity and increase military spending to defeat the threat of a "global extremist Islamic empire."
Rumsfeld said terrorists hope to use Iraq as the "central front" in their war, turning it into a training and recruitment area like they had done in Afghanistan under the Taliban. He warned "a war has been declared on all of our nations" and said their "futures depend on determination and unity in the face of the terrorist threat."
"We could choose to pretend, as some suggest, that the enemy is not at our doorstep. We could choose to believe, as some contend, that the threat is exaggerated.
"But those who would follow such a course must ask: what if they are wrong? What if at this moment, the enemy is counting on being underestimated, counting on being dismissed, and counting on our preoccupation," Rumsfeld said.
On Friday, Iran said it no longer would consider aenrichment program to Russia if it is referred to the U.N. Security Council over suspicions it might be seeking nuclear weapons.
Rumsfeld was to follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the opening speeches on the second day of 42nd annual Munich security conference, a prestigious gathering in southern Germany, which defense experts and policy-makers traditionally use for frank exchanges.
The conference is focused on the trans-Atlantic relationship between the U.S. and Europe.
Rumsfeld said violent extremism is a danger faced as much in Europe as in the United States.