Reuters: The dispute over Iran’s nuclear program moved to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday where the five permanent members met for the first time in search of a plan for Iran to shelve its nuclear ambitions. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The dispute over Iran’s nuclear program moved to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday where the five permanent members met for the first time in search of a plan for Iran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.
Most diplomats agree the 15-nation council would issue a statement urging Iran to comply with resolutions taken by the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But the statement’s contents are still in dispute and the five nations with veto power — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — intend to meet again on Friday before the issue is referred to the full council next week.
In Vienna, the IAEA board ended a meeting on Iran’s nuclear program that opened the way for Security Council action. IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei then sent a Feb. 27 report on Iran to council members.
But Russia seemed to rule out tough council measures. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said sanctions against Iran would be ineffective and military action was not a solution.
“I don’t think sanctions as a means to solve a crisis have ever achieved a goal in the recent history,” Lavrov told reporters after meeting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Russia is generally opposed to using Security Council mandates to punish Iraq. “We should all strive for a solution which would not endanger the ability of the IAEA to continue its work in Iran, while of course making sure that there is no danger for the nonproliferation regime,” Lavrov said.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called for more negotiations, saying, “There is still room for cooperation” and “we support the European Union and Russian engagement with Iran.” China is known to oppose sanctions.
Germany, Britain and France, the European negotiators with Iran, agree that diplomacy is not finished. But in a statement in Vienna they made clear that Iran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA “has made Security Council action inevitable.”
Britain suggested the council should ask for a report from the IAEA within 14 days on whether Iran had made any progress in complying with its requests, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
IAEA demands include that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities, which Western nations fear is a cover for bomb-making.
But Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Andrei Denisov said 14 days was too short and warned that the controversy should not “spin out of control of the IAEA.”
In New York, Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry would not give any details and said his country and France wanted “an incremental approach.”
France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said the council would follow a “gradual approach” that would be “reversible if Iran goes back to suspension.”
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who chaired the meeting, told reporters, “We talked about the role and reaction of the Security Council to the continued Iranian violation of the (nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty.”
“It has been a core element of our position since I have been working on this that Iran has to cease enrichment activities. And I think what comes next is the word ‘period,'” Bolton said.
In Washington, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told a congressional committee that the United States wanted a binding Security Council condemning Iran as well as sanctions if Tehran did not comply.
He also indicated that if action failed in the Security Council the United States would look elsewhere.
“It’s going to be incumbent upon our allies around the world, and interested countries, to show that they are willing to act, should the words and resolutions of the United Nations not suffice,” Burns said.
Iran’s reaction in Vienna was fierce. It blamed the United States for its insistence on Security Council action.
“The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain,” Javad Vaeedi, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters. “But it is also susceptible to harm and pain.
“So if the United States wants to pursue that path, let the ball roll,” he said.