Key UN members said to reach informal deal on Iran

Reuters: Key U.N. Security Council members agreed informally on Thursday on a resolution demanding Iran suspend nuclear enrichment and reprocessing work and threatening to consider sanctions if it refuses, diplomats said.
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Key U.N. Security Council members agreed informally on Thursday on a resolution demanding Iran suspend nuclear enrichment and reprocessing work and threatening to consider sanctions if it refuses, diplomats said.

The draft text must first be approved by governments of the five Security Council members with veto power -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- as well as Germany, a European negotiator on the Iran controversy.

Western countries, which have been haggling with Russia and China on a text over the past two weeks, were optimistic of a deal a week ago only to see the talks drag on.

But on Thursday, two diplomats close to the negotiations told Reuters there was "provisional agreement" among the six. If true, a vote could be scheduled for Monday after the full Security Council receives the draft.

Still, China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, expressed frustration earlier on Thursday with U.S. delays and its watering down of a council statement on the deaths of four U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, one of whom was Chinese.

He said difficulties remained on the Iran resolution because "not all members share the same view."

Tehran has vigorously objected to the resolution and says its nuclear activities are to produce electrical power only. It has also indicated it might withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, if the resolution were adopted.

The draft is expected to demand Iran suspend all uranium enrichment-related and plutonium reprocessing activities as well as the construction of a heavy-water reactor.

It says that if Iran does not comply with the resolution, the council would consider measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which relates to economic and diplomatic sanctions. But it excludes military force.

The date set for compliance is expected to be August 31.

The latest draft is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, Article 40, which says the council, before taking any action, can call on the those concerned to "comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary."

Chapter 7 makes a resolution mandatory and provides options for enforcement.

Originally, the Western drafters, who fear Iran's nuclear activity is a cover for bomb-making, also wanted a reference to Article 39 in Chapter 7 that refers to threats to international peace and security.

At a July 12 meeting in Paris, all six countries agreed Iran had given no indication it would engage seriously on a commercial and technological incentive package offered by major powers in early June, and referred the issue to the council.

Iran is building a heavy-water nuclear reactor at Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran. Western nations are concerned the plant's plutonium by-product could be used to produce nuclear warheads.