Iran Nuclear NewsSplit in group delays vote on sanctions against Iran

Split in group delays vote on sanctions against Iran


New York Times: The United States, Britain and France chose unity over speed and agreed on Friday to delay until November a United Nations Security Council vote on a third sanctions resolution against Iran. The New York Times

Published: September 29, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 — The United States, Britain and France chose unity over speed and agreed on Friday to delay until November a United Nations Security Council vote on a third sanctions resolution against Iran.

The delay, a concession to Russia, China and Germany — the other three countries in the fragile coalition of six world powers that are seeking to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions — came after a week of haggling on the outskirts of the General Assembly. The six countries issued a statement advising Iran that a diplomatic offer of economic incentives remained on the table if Iran suspended its uranium enrichment program.

The statement said the six powers would complete the new resolution and bring it to a vote unless reports from the European foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and the International Atomic Energy Agency in November “show a positive outcome of their efforts.”

Bush administration officials, who have been pushing diplomats to increase sanctions against Iran, said the move to put off a decision until November reflected the harsh realities of getting all six countries to speak with one voice. While officials from Britain, France and the United States were pressing for another sanctions vote right away, China and Russia in particular wanted to wait for another report from the nuclear monitoring agency.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose often volatile relationship with her Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, erupted again this week as Russia refused to go along with immediate sanctions, sought on Friday to minimize the differences between their countries.

“We’ve made it very clear that we’ve always wanted to keep the two tracks under way,” she told reporters in New York. American officials routinely use the phrase “two tracks” to refer to both the sanctions and the negotiations with Iran. “We will be watching to see what progress takes place.”

But her deputy, R. Nicholas Burns, the top United States negotiator on the Iran issue, acknowledged that “the alchemy of this group is such that anything is going to be a compromise.” He took issue with the speech by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, before the General Assembly this week, when Mr. Ahmadinejad said that the nuclear dispute with the West, which believes that Iran is working on a nuclear weapons program, is now “closed.”

“I’m sorry, he was badly mistaken,” Mr. Burns told reporters during a news conference. “Here, he has six ministers saying so.”

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Clearly, American diplomats were hoping for a bit more this week, but signs emerged early on that they would not get it. During a lunch of ministers from the Group of 8 industrialized nations on Wednesday, Ms. Rice and Mr. Lavrov exchanged sharp words on the right time to push for more Iran sanctions.

One European diplomat who was present said that “it’s getting to the point that you can’t get any work done if those two are in the room together,” referring to Ms. Rice and Mr. Lavrov. The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about tension between Ms. Rice and Mr. Lavrov.

Mr. Lavrov told The Associated Press after the lunch that he had strong words with Ms. Rice about whether the time was right for new sanctions when the International Atomic Energy Agency had struck an agreement with Iran about its past activities. Ms. Rice has been clear that she does not think much of the recent forays by Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s director, into the Iran negotiations, telling reporters on her airplane last week that the agency would be better off leaving diplomacy to diplomats.

Mr. ElBaradei reached an agreement in July with Iranian officials in which Tehran agreed to provide the agency with answers to questions about more than two decades of nuclear activity, most of it secret.

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