The United States and Russia disagreed Monday over whether recent ballistic missile tests conducted by Iran violated a UN Security Council resolution.
The Security Council discussed the rocket launches after the US called for a meeting charging that the tests violated a resolution passed last year that endorsed the international nuclear deal brokered with Iran.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, read from the text of the resolution to make her point, saying the tests were "in defiance" of resolution 2231 and it was the Security Council's responsibility to take action.
Resolution 2231, which lifted UN sanction on Iran, called on the country "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
Russia said, however, the launches did not violate the resolution because the language used in the text does not make the provision legally binding.
"It's an important legal distinction," said Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN.
"A call is different from a ban - so legally, you cannot violate a call. You can comply with a call, you can ignore a call, but you cannot violate a call."
Churkin said Russia has no proof that the rockets launched were capable of delivering nuclear weapons and did not see a need for further action, including requesting a special report, on the issue by the council.
"There is no legal violation of 2231 - after I repeated it two or three times, I had no objections around the table, so to me it was a very satisfactory outcome of these discussions," he said.
Power said Russia seemed "to be lawyering its way to look for reasons not to act rather than stepping up and being prepared to shoulder our collective responsibility."
She noted that information provided by Iran showed that the rockets were capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
"This merits a council response," Power said.
"We're not going to give up at the Security Council, no matter the quibbling that we heard today about this and that, and we also can consider, of course, our own appropriate national response."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed her comments and said he would not rule out additional sanctions being imposed on Iran either by the international community or by the United States.