Iran Nuclear NewsLebanon crisis delays UN focus on Iran nuclear issue...

Lebanon crisis delays UN focus on Iran nuclear issue — diplomats

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AFP: The deadly fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon has postponed Security Council consideration of a draft resolution that would demand a halt to Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel work, diplomats said Monday. UNITED NATIONS, July 17, 2006 (AFP) – The deadly fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon has postponed Security Council consideration of a draft resolution that would demand a halt to Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel work, diplomats said Monday.

The United States last week announced that a draft resolution demanding a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment activities would be put forward in the 15-member council early this week.

The move followed a meeting of six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in Paris where it was decided to send the Iran nuclear dossier back to the council after Tehran failed to respond to the demand for a uranium enrichment freeze.

But instead of discussing Iran, the council on Monday met behind closed doors to take up the dangerous Middle East crisis, which Washington has blamed on militants of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas radical groups with their abduction of three Israeli soldiers.

“I would have expected that as of this morning, we would have been working on the Iran resolution, but Iran’s proxies in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah, obviously have other work in mind,” US Ambassador John Bolton said.

Several diplomats said Iran would not come up for discussion Tuesday while UN officials said no formal Security Council meeting on the issue was planned.

“If Iran wanted to contribute positively to peace and security in the Middle East, it would have Hamas and Hezbollah release the captive Israeli soldiers,” Bolton said.

In its drive against Israel, Hezbollah retains financial, military and ideological support from Syria and Iran. Tehran also is a key backer of Hamas.

G8 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — meanwhile Monday issued a statement at their Saint Petersburg summit calling on Iran to accept the proposal from the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany for resolving concern over its nuclear program.

That proposal calls on Iran to drop plans to enrich uranium itself in exchange for a package of trade, technology, diplomatic and other incentives as well as multilateral talks — also involving the United States.

But Iran argues that it wants to enrich uranium only to make reactor fuel and that this is a right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, though the process can be extended to build nuclear weapons.

Western powers believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb under the cover of a peaceful atomic energy programme. Tehran denies the charge.

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