Reuters: Russia voiced optimism on Monday that a new European U.N. draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear ambitions could be adopted soon, perhaps even by Christmas as the West wants. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia voiced optimism on Monday that a new European U.N. draft resolution on Iran’s nuclear ambitions could be adopted soon, perhaps even by Christmas as the West wants.
“It should not take too long,” Moscow’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a meeting among six key nations on the U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on dangerous materials Iran can import.
The proposals are a reaction to Iran’s failure to comply with an August 31 U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for bombs. Iran has argued it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, while the West believes Tehran’s research is a cover for bomb making.
The U.S.-backed resolution, which Britain and France circulated to full 15-member council, would also impose a travel ban and freeze the assets of institutions and individuals involved in Iran’s nuclear program and ballistic missile program. They hope for a vote before Christmas.
But China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya made clear Beijing and Moscow were uneasy about those provisions and wanted “maybe a few small fixes” but “we are closer.”
“Maybe we have to consider this travel ban, the financials,” Wang said. “The travel ban will always be regarded as a humiliation.”
In an effort to get Russian support, Britain, France, and Germany, backed by the United States, circulated a new draft that narrowed bans to the most dangerous bomb-building materials and technology. Their original text barred nearly all nuclear-related goods and ballistic missile materials, including dual-use items.
The revised draft retains a provision urging nations to “prevent specialized teaching or training” of Iranian nationals in areas that could advance training of banned nuclear activities.
CONCESSION TO RUSSIA
A key concession to Russia was allowing the continued construction and supply of fuel to an $800 million light-water reactor it is building at Bushehr in southwest Iran. The original draft was ambiguous on fuel supplies.
Churkin emphasized this change because Bushehr was “now out of the draft and this is certainly an important development.”
Earlier in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the draft, saying the revisions were “along the lines of the Russian proposals aimed at encouraging Iran to sit down at the negotiating table.”
The text says the council would consider lifting the sanctions if Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, decides Iran has suspended its uranium work and stopped efforts to produce a heavy-water nuclear energy reactor.
He has to report within 60 days.
The draft threatens further measures if Iran does not comply but it is doubtful any will be imposed, considering the weeks of haggling over an initial resolution.
As in the earlier draft, the resolution invokes Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes enforcement mandatory. But it points to Article 41, that pertains only to sanctions and not to any possible military enforcement.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters there was “agreement to go swiftly so these are good signals.”