AP: Each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has told Iran to drop plans for new nuclear activities or risk being hauled before the body for possible sanctions, the Bush administration said Monday. Associated Press
By ANNE GEARAN
AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has told Iran to drop plans for new nuclear activities or risk being hauled before the body for possible sanctions, the Bush administration said Monday.
Although the United States and European allies have been sending that message for weeks, China and Russia are now doing the same, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
“We are working very closely with Russia, China and France and Britain on sending a clear message to the Iranians,” McCormack said.
Those nations plus the U.S. are the five permanent Security Council members. All are nuclear powers themselves and could individually veto any punishment the body might try to impose on Iran for pursuing what the United States claims is a fraudulent and dangerous drive for nuclear technology.
The United States is backing a stalled European effort to negotiate with Iran, and supports a separate offer from Russia to perform some of the most sensitive nuclear enrichment tasks on Iran’s behalf. Both initiatives would allow Iran to pursue legitimate civilian nuclear energy while reducing the risk that the same technology could be diverted to make weapons.
Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, while the United States accuses Tehran of hiding a weapons program behind its drive for nuclear energy.
Iran has said it is ready to resume research on fuel production, which had been on hold so that a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found.
“Ultimately, given Iran’s track record on seeking nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian program, defying the international community, bobbing and weaving, obfuscating, that we’re ultimately all going to end up in the Security Council on this issue,” McCormack said.
There has been no single unified communication from Security Council members to Iran, such as a formal letter of warning, U.S. officials said.
“I think that the Chinese are perfectly capable of delivering their own messages,” McCormack said. “What we have been doing, have done and will continue to do, is to continue to work with them, work with the Russians and others so that Iran receives a clear, consistent, unmistakable message from the rest of the world.”
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called on Iran on Monday to immediately retract its decision to restart nuclear activities.
France, Britain and Germany – the three countries negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union – will meet on the issue soon, Douste-Blazy said.
He called Iran’s intention to restart nuclear activities linked to uranium enrichment “reason for very serious concern.”
“We call on Iran to go back on its decision without delay and without conditions,” Douste-Blazy said.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said earlier Monday that Iran was sending “very, very disastrous signals” on its nuclear program that “cannot remain without consequences for the EU-3’s negotiation process.”
Javier Solana, the European Union foreign and security affairs chief, told Iran on Saturday that if it resumes its uranium enrichment program, it may doom any further negotiations with the 25-nation bloc about economic aid and other issues.
Hossein Ghafourian, head of the nuclear research center of Iran’s atomic energy organization, pledged to press on with plans to continue its peaceful program.
“Blocking research activities is similar to blocking the light,” Ghafourian told state-run radio on Sunday.