Iran Nuclear NewsRice confident of Iran referral to U.N. Council

Rice confident of Iran referral to U.N. Council

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Reuters: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday she was confident of Russia and China’s support to send Iran’s nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council but she expected differences over exactly what steps to take. By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday she was confident of Russia and China’s support to send Iran’s nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council but she expected differences over exactly what steps to take.

“There is a very strong consensus on what the problem is and that the problem has to be dealt with. I expect there will continue to be tactical differences about timing. There may even be tactical differences about precisely what is required but that’s the hard work of the diplomacy,” said Rice.

Ministers from the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany agreed in London that Thursday’s emergency meeting of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency should report Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Council.

“I want there to be no confusion here that a report is a formal step to the Security Council,” Rice told reporters on the way home from London. “This is the referral we have been seeking.”

Iran, which rejects charges it is trying to build a nuclear bomb, argued Tuesday that moves to send its case to the council were not legally justified and that it would not bow to demands it halt atomic research and development.

Russia and China, which have strong economic interests in Iran, have been reluctant for the International Atomic Energy Agency to immediately report Tehran to the Security Council and Monday’s dinner in London went into overtime because of haggling over this issue.

Rice said a compromise was finally reached when it was agreed that while the IAEA should send Iran’s case to the council this week, any action there should be delayed until after March 6, when the agency’s chief is due to deliver a report on Tehran’s nuclear activities.

“It really came down to the issue of whether or not to wait to report — to put the dossier in the Security Council — until March 6 or whether to do it now. Believe it or not, that took four hours,” said Rice.

She said there was a lot of discussion over what might be done to get Iran to respond more favorably to international demands and she expected Russia and China would continue to put pressure on Tehran.

While they signed on to the statement, it was not clear whether Russia and China would vote with the United States at the IAEA or abstain. India, which had supported an IAEA warning against Iran in September, has indicated it will abstain.

International concern over Iran peaked this month when Iran removed U.N. seals on uranium enrichment equipment, key to making atomic bombs or fuel, and resumed nuclear fuel research.

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