Reuters: The U.N. Security Council ran into new obstacles on Tuesday in trying to issue a statement on reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions after Russia insisted on deleting key parts of the text. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council ran into new obstacles on Tuesday in trying to issue a statement on reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions after Russia insisted on deleting key parts of the text.
A closed-door meeting among all 15 council members scheduled for Tuesday was delayed until later in the week while diplomats talk in small groups, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. Members last week thought a deal was close.
“The impact on the negotiations which we are trying to do here was not as positive as we would have wished,” British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said. “That is the basic problem.”
Council members have mulled a reaction to Iran’s nuclear program, which the West believes is a cover for bomb making, since receiving a dossier from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on March 8.
Russia, supported by China, has been wary of action by the Security Council, which can impose sanctions, fearing threats might escalate and prompt Iran to cut all contact with the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog. On the statement, Russia wants about half the text deleted, China said.
A statement requires agreement from all 15 Security Council members while a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no veto from any of the permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
The Western powers could turn the statement, drafted by France and Britain, into a resolution and dare Russia and China to take what would be a serious step and veto a text on Iran.
Asked about a resolution, Britain’s Jones Parry said everything was on the table “if it produces a satisfactory outcome, sends the right message to the government in Tehran.”
“I think what France and I both feel is that if this text is to be amended further, it should be amended in order to come to an agreed conclusion. And if there is no prospect of an agreed conclusion we won’t be amending the text,” Jones Parry said.
Moscow would like to cut a provision that weapons of mass destruction constitute “a threat to international peace and security” because it could lead to a action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes demands mandatory and can lead to sanctions or even military action, China said.
“The Russian argument is that it has the implication of leading to Chapter 7 actions,” China’s U.N. ambassador Wang Guangya said.
“I believe that the Russian concern has its logic,” Wang said when asked if China agreed.
Russia also wants a brief statement that does not reiterate all demands from the IAEA’s 35-nation board, such as suspending all uranium enrichment activities. Instead it wants only to point to the number of the IAEA resolution, Wang said.
Senior officials from the five permanent council members and Germany met on Monday to discuss future action but came to no agreement, diplomats said.
Before the meeting, Britain had floated the possibility of tougher Security Council measures against Tehran in exchange for a package of incentives, which had been offered by the Europeans earlier in talks that collapsed, diplomats said.
Russia, Wang said, informally floated its own proposals — talks with Iran, the IAEA’s director general Mohamed ElBaradei and the six countries, similar to talks on North Korea, which are not part of Security Council measures.
But he said neither the British proposals nor the Russian ones were discussed at the meeting.
“They (the Russians) argued for two tracks. “On one hand you put pressure, on the other hand show a way out of this,” Wang said without elaborating.
Under a November 2004 agreement with Britain, France and Germany, negotiators for the European Union, Iran agreed to freeze any uranium conversion, enrichment and reprocessing activities in return for economic and political rewards.
That deal broke down last year and Iran restarted uranium conversion in August.
(Additional reporting by Irving Arieff)