AFP: Russia rejected Thursday a draft UN resolution put forward by European powers targeting Iran’s nuclear programme, saying the proposed measures did not advance objectives agreed on earlier by major world powers. by Sebastian Smith
MOSCOW, Oct 26, 2006 (AFP) – Russia rejected Thursday a draft UN resolution put forward by European powers targeting Iran’s nuclear programme, saying the proposed measures did not advance objectives agreed on earlier by major world powers.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the resolution put forward Wednesday by Britain, France and Germany would not be effective in containing Iran’s programme and contradicted the consensus reached by the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.
“I think that in this respect the draft resolution that has been presented clearly does not further the objectives that the six powers agreed on earlier,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Those goals, Lavrov said, included preventing proliferation of “sensitive technology” while also keeping open “all necessary channels of communication with Iran.”
One of Lavrov’s top deputies, Sergei Kislyak, said separately that Russia was “carefully studying” the draft resolution. However, a “long negotiating process is required” to find a mutually acceptable decision.
Lavrov later stated that Russia was ready to discuss ways of preventing deliveries of “sensitive technologies connected to uranium enrichment and processing of spent fuel,” in comments quoted by RIA Novosti.
Russia has long resisted the West’s push for tough sanctions, partly due to a lucrative contract to construct Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr.
The draft resolution, which proposes “necessary measures” to prevent nuclear and missile technology from reaching Iran, exempts Bushehr from the sanctions.
The United States has called on Russia to halt nuclear cooperation with Iran.
Kislyak told Interfax: “There are much bigger problems there than the construction of the Bushehr station.”
In comments released Saturday, Lavrov repeated Russia’s insistence that Iran respect international demands on its nuclear programme, but added: “We cannot support, and will actively oppose, any attempt to use the Security Council to punish Iran or to use Iran’s nuclear programme in order to promote the idea of regime change.”
De la Sabliere, who played a key role in drafting the proposed sanctions, said they invoked Article 41 of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter which calls for sanctions not involving the use of force.
The draft warns that the Security Council would “consider further measures” if Iran still refused to comply with a demand that it freeze uranium enrichment, a process used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors but which, if extended, can also provide the raw material for bombs.
De La Sabliere told reporters that the text also contained a freeze on assets related to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs as well as travel bans on nuclear and weapons scientists.
He said the draft would be discussed Thursday among envoys of the council’s five veto-wielding members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany.
He added that the punitive measures were needed to respond to Tehran’s defiance after the failure of negotiations between the European Union and Iran.
Russia’s stance against the draft resolution was played down Thursday by a French foreign ministry spokesman, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, who said it was not surprising at this stage.
“We are in a normal process of elaborating a UN resolution with the aim of reaching an agreement and ensuring the unity of the international community,” Mattei said.
“Everyone announces their positions… We have noted the Russian declarations,” he said.
Russia has long been closely involved in Iran and in addition to building the Bushehr power station supplies hi-tech conventional weapons to Tehran.
Repeated delays in completing the Bushehr power station have prompted speculation that Moscow is quietly heeding Washington’s warnings.
On Wednesday Sergei Shmatko, the head of the Russian company that is heading the project, Atomstroiexport, announced further delays, insisting that the reasons were technical in nature.
Meanwhile in Beijing, French President Jacques Chirac and Chinese President Hu Jintao presented a united front, issuing a joint communique on the separate nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
The communique called on Tehran to finally abide by a Security Council resolution that had set an August 31 deadline for Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program or face sanctions.
“The two sides call for respect of Security Council resolution 1696 and agree to pursue their joint efforts for a resolution of the nuclear issue to maintain a close permanent contact on this matter,” the statement said.