USA TODAY: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the Bush administration that the Security Council might deadlock if asked to punish Iran for its nuclear program. The United States and Britain have called for Iran to be brought before the Security Council if it carries out threats to resume efforts to make nuclear fuel. USA TODAY
By Barbara Slavin
UNITED NATIONS U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the Bush administration that the Security Council might deadlock if asked to punish Iran for its nuclear program.
The United States and Britain have called for Iran to be brought before the Security Council if it carries out threats to resume efforts to make nuclear fuel. The United States and Britain believe the fuel could be used for bombs, while Iran contends that it is to generate power. China and Russia, which have strong economic ties to Iran, might veto any push to sanction Iran, Annan suggested in interviews with USA TODAY.
“Action or inaction will have a great impact on future cases and on our efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation,” Annan said. A deadlock on Iran, he said, could embolden North Korea and future North Koreas.
Annan’s comments came in a face-to-face interview Friday and a follow-up call Saturday.
The most pro-U.S. of seven U.N. leaders, Annan fell out with the Bush administration over Iraq and a scandal over an Iraqi oil-for-food program that involved his son, Kojo. Annan said he considered resigning but decided quitting was the “easy” way out. He said he would stay to remake the world body and try to repair U.S. ties.
New challenges loom. Iran suspended efforts to make nuclear fuel in November, while it negotiates with Britain, France and Germany. Iranian leaders have expressed unhappiness with those talks. Iran’s parliament voted Sunday to oblige Iran “to take action to obtain peaceful nuclear technology.”
Annan, 67, said he thought he had “turned the corner” with President Bush but that strains remain with Congress, which has launched a half-dozen investigations into alleged corruption and mismanagement at the U.N.
As a result of his opposition to the Iraq war and recent scandals, “I’m afraid that it has gone sour again,” he said of relations with Congress. Seeking to repair the breach, Annan has proposed major changes, including expanding the Security Council and setting rules on the use of force.
Annan said he has a good relationship with Bush. “In some conversations … where there have been differences, he’s made it clear that, ‘Kofi, you have to do what you have to do and I have to do what I have to do.’ This is the sort of mature attitude we should use to approach differences.”
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has called for Annan to resign. He said Annan is “damaged goods” and “can’t do the heavy lifting to reform the U.N.”
Annan said Coleman should “watch and see” what he can still do.