Reuters: World powers put Iran on a collision course with the United Nations on Wednesday, asking the Security Council to intervene after Tehran failed to respond to incentives aimed at ending an impasse over its nuclear program. By Saul Hudson and Francois Murphy
PARIS, July 12 (Reuters) – World powers put Iran on a collision course with the United Nations on Wednesday, asking the Security Council to intervene after Tehran failed to respond to incentives aimed at ending an impasse over its nuclear program.
The decision to send the Iran dossier back to the United Nations was taken by the foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members — the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China — plus Germany.
It could lead to economic sanctions against Iran but does not open the door on possible military action.
“We have no choice but to return to the United Nations Security Council,” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said after meeting his five counterparts.
Iran was referred to the Security Council earlier this year, but work on a U.N. resolution was suspended in May to allow the Iranian leadership to respond to the incentives.
World power leaders hoped the package would persuade Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment program and wanted a clear response before this weekend’s Group of Eight industrialised nations summit in Russia.
Iran has said it would only deliver its answer by Aug. 22.
But the six foreign ministers in Paris said they were not prepared to let Tehran drag its feet and instead asked the 15-nation council to order Iran to suspend all nuclear enrichment activities, which can produce fuel for either power plants or weapons.
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at generating electricity.
“The Iranians have given absolutely no indication of their readiness to seriously discuss the substance of our proposal,” Douste-Blazy said.
In New York, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said he hoped for council action early next week on a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment.
Council major powers would begin consulting later in the day on how to proceed, he said.
If Iran ignored the United Nations and continued to work on uranium enrichment, the world powers promised fresh measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which allows for economic sanctions but not military action.
“We called (Iran’s) bluff today. We said, ‘No, we are not going to be strung along,'” said a U.S. official who accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Paris.
Russia and China would be unlikely to accept any really tough measures against Iran and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the use of force against Iran was “absolutely excluded.”
However, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying: “The lack of a positive reaction from Iran disappoints us.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters world powers still hoped for a negotiated deal. “We have not finally closed the door to negotiations,” he said.
Speaking shortly before the foreign ministers met, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to talk in a “fair atmosphere” over its nuclear program but would not retreat from what it sees as the nation’s rights.
The world powers’ incentives included offering Iran a state-of-the-art reactor with a guaranteed fuel supply and economic benefits if it halted uranium enrichment. The package has not, however, been made public yet.
“We all feel real frustration at the failure of Iran’s negotiators to engage and to address the issues that were clearly put before them by the international community,” British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett said.
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Berlin, Jon Boyle, James Mackenzie and Kerstin Gehmlich in Paris and Irwin Arieff at the United Nations)