Iran Nuclear NewsRice confident of U.N. action on Iran

Rice confident of U.N. action on Iran


AP: The swift decision to impose international sanctions on North Korea for its rogue nuclear test could grease the skids for sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday. Associated Press


AP Diplomatic Writer

MOSCOW (AP) – The swift decision to impose international sanctions on North Korea for its rogue nuclear test could grease the skids for sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

“It really does help to create a momentum,” Rice said after leaving four days of crisis talks in Asia in response to the North’s test.

Rice’s last Asian stop was Beijing, the North’s traditional ally. She met there with a Chinese government envoy who had just returned from a hastily arranged visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Rice said the envoy, State Council Tang Jiaxuan, told her nothing that confirms news reports about conciliatory moves from the North.

“Councilor Tang did not tell me that Kim Jong Il either apologized for the test or said that he would never test again,” Rice said, adding that she does not know the source of widely circulated South Korean media reports to the contrary.

“I don’t know whether or not Kim Jong Il said any such thing. But the Chinese, … in a fairly thorough briefing to me about the talks, said nothing,” that confirms it, Rice said.

Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed diplomatic source in Beijing, had reported Friday that Kim told Tang “we have no plans for additional nuclear tests.”

The North Korean leader told the Chinese visitors “he is sorry about the nuclear test,” the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo daily had reported, also citing a diplomatic source in China.

The North Korean test is a main topic for Rice’s meeting Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but her underlying mission is to persuade Russia to approve U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Last weekend’s unanimous vote by the United Nations Security Council to rebuke North Korea came after only a few days of debate. North Korea exploded a nuclear device on Oct. 9, confirming its claim to have the bomb and forcing the world to reckon with nuclear weapons in the hands of an outlaw state.

The Security Council has been mulling the less clear-cut case of Iran since February, and is expected to consider a draft sanctions resolution next week. Iran claims its nascent program to produce nuclear fuel is intended only to develop peaceful nuclear power, but the United States and some allies claim Iran is hiding plans to build a bomb.

“I don’t think you’ll have the kind of resolution on Iran that you have on North Korea,” Rice said. “After all this is a program that is much further along; there was a nuclear test.”

Rice expressed confidence the Security Council will pass a resolution on Iran, saying the body is now very engaged in nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

“That helps to create an atmosphere in which no one is going to want to have a successful resolution against North Korea and no action against Iran, which also at a different level is a threat to the nonproliferation regime,” Rice said.

Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and can veto its actions. Russia voted for sanctions on North Korea despite reservations and only after the United States agreed to water them down.

Russia, which along with China has lucrative trade ties with Iran, has resisted U.S.-led calls for punitive measures against Tehran.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview that Russia would not allow the Security Council to be used to punish Iran over its nuclear program.

“We won’t be able to support and will oppose any attempts to use the Security Council to punish Iran or use Iran’s program in order to promote the ideas of regime change there,” Lavrov said told the Kuwaiti News Agency KUNA. His remarks were posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry web site.

Rice and Lavrov met Saturday over lunch.

“There is going to be a lot of bargaining to find a formula that is face-saving for both sides. Russia doesn’t want to veto a resolution. It would leave a very bad impression,” said Georgy Mirsky, chief researcher at the Institute for World Economics and International Relations in Moscow.

Russian analysts say that Moscow remains opposed to punishing Tehran but, after the North Korea vote it may agree to token measures in return for assurances on its $800 million contract to build Iran’s first nuclear power station.

“It isn’t totally unfeasible that you could buy Russia off by allowing it to finish the Bushehr project,” said Alexei Malashenko, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank.

Russia has come under strong pressure from the United States to halt work on the nuclear reactor in the southern city of Bushehr, which is due to start work in September 2007. Fuel from the plant potentially could be diverted and used to produce bombs.

Moscow has refused to cancel the contract or an order worth $700 million to supply 29 sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missile systems to Iran.

Any U.N. measures against Iran are likely to be soft. Council diplomats indicated the draft to be circulated by Britain and France will seek to ban the import and export of material and equipment that could be used to produce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The United States has called for broad sanctions, such as a total ban on missile and nuclear technology sales, while the Russians and Chinese back prohibitions of selected items as a first step.

Six nations including the U.S. offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and commit to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks to discuss details of their package.

But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly and defiantly said his country would continue enrichment, and is not intimidated by the possibility of sanctions.

Latest news

What Gas Poisonings In Iran Tell Us About The Ruling Regime

For months schools in Iran have been in the crosshairs of gas attacks against the country’s children. The mullahs’...

Iran’s Regime Inches Toward Nuclear Weapons

Iran’s regime is once again at the center of a dangerous escalation of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A...

US Congress Expresses Support for Iranian People’s Quest for a Democratic, Secular Republic

Several bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives have presented a resolution (H. RES. 100) supporting the Iranian...

Wave Of Poisoning Attacks Against Schools Leave Hundreds Sick

Iran has been shaken for three months by serial poisoning attacks against all-girls schools, which has left more than...

Iranian Security Forces Beat Baluch Doctor To Death

On Thursday, February 23, activists in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces reported the news of the death of Dr. Ebrahim...

World Powers Should Hear The Voice Of Iranians, Not Dictators And Their Remnants

Iran’s nationwide uprising continues despite its ups and down. The clerical system’s demise no longer seems a dream but...

Must read

Music fails to chime with Islamic values, says Iran’s supreme leader

The Guardian: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claims the promotion and...

Iran: US may feel “pain” if Security Council acts

Reuters: Iran said on Wednesday the United States could...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you