Reuters: With Russia and China opposed to sanctions against Iran, the West wants to ratchet up pressure bit by bit in the U.N. Security Council next week to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – With Russia and China opposed to sanctions against Iran, the West wants to ratchet up pressure bit by bit in the U.N. Security Council next week to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
But China and Russia are contemplating a meeting of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency before any U.N. consideration of a report due by Friday by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei.
“There are proposals that the IAEA board of directors should have a meeting first before the council takes it up,” China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, disclosed to reporters on Monday.
In Berlin, a European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russia and China wanted to emphasize the primacy of the Vienna-based IAEA board.
The envoy, who was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the aim was to delay U.N. action until after an IAEA board meeting in June to slow down any U.S. drive for sanctions.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran is trying to build an atomic bomb under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran says its program is for energy purposes only.
The Security Council passed a statement last month asking ElBaradei to report simultaneously to the council and the IAEA board by April 28 on whether Iran has halted enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear warheads.
As a first step, Western powers want a council resolution that would turn demands in the March statement into a legally binding measure under the Chapter 7 provision of the U.N. Charter. The council’s statement, which also asks Iran to answer outstanding questions on its program, was based on earlier resolutions by the IAEA board.
CHAPTER 7 RESOLUTION
“Our expectation would be — assuming no change of direction by Iran, and there is no reason to think there will be a change of direction — that we will look at a Chapter 7 resolution to make mandatory all of the existing IAEA resolutions,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on Monday.
“We are going to wait for the April 28 report. We are in consultations now and will be this week on the timing and the handling of the resolution,” Bolton told reporters.
While a Chapter 7 resolution allows for sanctions or even war, it needs a follow-up measure to make that decision.
A council diplomat, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak, said the United States, Britain and France were trying to reassure Russia and China that the resolution in question “does not do more than it says.”
But to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chapter 7 invokes Security Council resolutions against Iraq, interpreted by the United States as a legal basis for the 2003 invasion.
However, compared to Iran, U.N. resolutions against Saddam Hussein’s government stretched over a decade, starting with the 1991 Gulf War and including ceasefire breaches.
“I know how the Security Council works,” Lavrov, a former U.N. ambassador for 10 years until 2004, told reporters in Moscow in early March.
“You start with a soft reminder, then you call upon, then you require, you demand, you threaten. It will become a self-propelling function,” he said. “An enforcement scenario isn’t acceptable both for the Iranian situation or for the situation in the region.”
(Added reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Berlin)