AP: The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed on a statement Wednesday demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, setting the stage for the first action by the powerful body over fears that Tehran wants a nuclear weapon.
By NICK WADHAMS
Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed on a statement Wednesday demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, setting the stage for the first action by the powerful body over fears that Tehran wants a nuclear weapon.
The 15 members of the council planned to meet later Wednesday to approve the statement, the text of which was not immediately disclosed. Uranium enrichment is a process that can lead to a nuclear weapon.
Diplomats said the statement, which is not legally binding will ask International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei to report back in 30 days on Iran’s compliance with the demands.
“We are very close today to taking the first major step in the Security Council to deal with Iran’s nearly 20-year-old clandestine nuclear weapons program,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. “It sends an unmistakable message to Iran that its efforts to deny the obvious fact of what it’s doing are not going to be sufficient.”
The council has struggled for three weeks to come up with a written rebuke that would urge Iran to comply with several demands from the board of the IAEA to clear up suspicions about its intentions. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The West believes council action will help isolate Iran and put new pressure on it to clear up suspicions about its intentions. They have proposed an incremental approach, refusing to rule out sanctions.
U.S. officials have said the threat of military action must also remain on the table.
Russia and China, both allies of Iran, oppose sanctions. They want any council statement to make explicit that the IAEA, not the Security Council, must take the lead in confronting Iran.
Diplomats would not say exactly what will happen if Iran does not comply within 30 days. Jones-Parry told reporters only that “the council will continue its discussion of this issue and will assume its responsibilities” if that happens.
Britain, France and the United States had wanted the council statement out of the way before their foreign ministers, as well as Germany’s, meet in Berlin on Thursday to discuss strategy toward Iran.
In Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated his stance that Moscow would not support the use of force to solve the Iranian nuclear problem.
“As many of our European and Chinese colleagues have stated more than once, any ideas involving the use of force or pressure in resolving the issue are counterproductive and cannot be supported,” Lavrov said.
Iran remains defiant. The government released a statement through its embassy in Moscow on Tuesday warning that Security Council intervention would “escalate tensions, entailing negative consequences that would be of benefit to no party.”