Reuters: Russia expressed misgivings on Thursday about a European draft U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, which the United States supports but hopes to strengthen. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia expressed misgivings on Thursday about a European draft U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Iran, which the United States supports but hopes to strengthen.
Russia, the United States, Britain, France, China and Germany held their first meeting on Thursday afternoon on the draft Security Council resolution, which would ban Iranian trade in nuclear materials and ballistic missiles.
“We will meet again probably on Monday, and I think at that point we’ll have a chance to talk about specifics,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said. “But it was just a preliminary exchange of views.”
The resolution is in response to U.N. demands that Tehran suspend by Aug. 31 its uranium-enrichment activities, which the West believes are a cover for bomb-making. Iran says its program is aimed solely at energy production.
No agreement is expected until sometime next week at the earliest after which the text goes to the full 15-member Security Council.
Speaking in Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the European draft did not match previous agreements among the major powers seeking to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and predicted long negotiations before the issue is resolved.
He said the object was to “eliminate the risks of sensitive technology falling into Iran’s hands” and stressed the importance of dealing with Iran through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog.
Lavrov said it appeared that the “proposed resolution clearly does not meet the tasks earlier agreed by the six.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the meeting,” A lot of work is still to be done, a lot of work.”
The United States had wanted to suspend Russia’s construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr — something diplomats say is a U.S. negotiating tactic as Washington tries to strengthen other measures in the resolution.
The Europeans refused, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are in progress.
The current text exempts Bushehr from sanctions but says Russia has to check with a Security Council committee if it delivers material that can be used for weapons.
Churkin said he thought Bushehr would not be a problem “because it it is a peaceful nuclear facility which we have been helping Iran to build in full conformity with the (1970) Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack expressed U.S. backing for the European draft, saying, “We have fully supported that effort from the very beginning.”
He also said he understood Moscow’s fears about putting too much pressure on Iran.
“We know that the Russians have some concerns about the tactics and concerns about applying too much pressure too quickly on the Iranians. We certainly understand their point of view,” McCormack told reporters in Washington.
The $800 million reactor is expected to go into operation next year.
The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, would invoke Article 41 under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for enforcement of sanctions but excludes military action.
It demands nations “prevent the supply, sale or transfer” to Iran of “materials, equipment, goods and technology” related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
And it calls for a a freeze of funds and assets overseas of entities and people involved in Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program.
The draft also imposes a travel ban on people responsible for and involved in the program and prohibits “specialized teaching or training of Iranian nationals” that would contribute to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
(Additional reporting by Irwin Arieff at the United Nations, Carol Giacomo and Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Ron Popeski in Moscow)