Reuters: The United States, Britain and France on Tuesday move the Iran crisis to the full U.N. Security Council after failing to get support from Russia and China for proposals to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States, Britain and France on Tuesday move the Iran crisis to the full U.N. Security Council after failing to get support from Russia and China for proposals to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
At issue is British-French draft of a council statement that would call on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment efforts, which the West believes are a cover for bomb making, and obtain a progress report from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency in a short period of time.
The talks on Tuesday among the 15-nation Security Council at France’s mission to the United Nations are scheduled several hours after the five veto-holding permanent council members meet again in an effort to find a compromise on the text.
“We’re trying to hold the perm five together,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Monday, after the third session among the five ended without agreement.
“But reality is reality and time is an important factor given the Iranians continue to progress towards overcoming their technological difficulties” in enriching uranium, Bolton told reporters.
If the split continues, the Western powers may decide to drop the idea of a Security Council statement, which requires the consent of all 15 members. Instead they are considering putting a resolution to a vote and force Russia and China to abstain or veto, thereby breaking any semblance of unity.
Russia and China have been uneasy about involving the Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions, and want the IAEA to retain control.
The United States wants Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the IAEA, to report to the council within 14 days on Iran’s compliance. Russia and China prefer a six-week deadline and want the report to go to the IAEA rather than to the Security Council, the envoys said.
But Bolton said the case was now before the Security council, not just the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
“There’s no reason why a specialized or technical agency of the United Nations can’t report to the Security Council on a matter within the Security Council’s jurisdiction. That’s certainly our view,” Bolton told reporters.
Iran, which denies it is trying to make a nuclear weapon, had rejected an offer from Russia to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil. But it then wanted to reopen the talks, which Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said would happen soon.
But Lavrov expressed impatience with mixed messages from Iran, saying he was “extremely disappointed with the way Iran in the course of these talks.”
“Iran is absolutely no help to those who want to find peaceful ways to solve this problem,” he said on Monday.
ElBaradei’s report to the council a week ago said Iran had disregarded a February resolution from the 35-nation IAEA board urging it to suspend all enrichment-related work and answer inquiries on its nuclear program.
Instead, Iran is testing a cascade of 20 centrifuges — machines that convert uranium UF6 gas into fuel for atomic power reactors or, if purified to high levels, weapons.