UN haggles over Iran draft as Turkey warns against nuclear proliferation
UNITED NATIONS, May 5 (AFP) May 05, 2006
Five major powers on Friday resumed bargaining in the UN Security Council to narrow differences on a draft resolution that would legally require Iran to stop sensitive nuclear fuel work, as Turkey warned against nuclear proliferation.
Representatives of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- the council's five permanent members with veto powers (P5) -- met behind closed doors to seek common ground on a tough Franco-British text backed by the United States and Germany.
The full 15-member council was scheduled to meet later in the day to compare notes ahead of a vote which is not expected to take place until after foreign ministers of the P5 plus Germany meet in New York Monday.
"It's too early to say if we can find an agreement," French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the P5 huddle. "But it seems to me that we have made some steps towards it. A lot of work remains to be done."
"We are going to discuss it again this afternoon. We'll keep working tomorrow," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Reiterating Moscow's opposition to using force against Iran, he said: "We are looking for ways to make it a meaningful resolution which all members of the Security Council could live with and which would send a meaningful signal to Iran and therefore advance the prospect of a political and diplomatic solution."
Churkin rejected the notion that Monday was a deadline but said he "would like to advance as much as possible before the ministerial meeting."
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said the parties laid out their positions and "agree to continue work probably over the weekend to try to bridge these differences."
A Western diplomat said the sponsors were working on a formula that could overcome objections by Moscow and Beijing to the draft's reference to Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.
Chapter Seven can authorize economic sanctions or military action as a last resort in cases of threats to international peace and security.
Wang noted that according to Article 25 of the UN charter, "any decision by the Security Council has to be carried out", implying that Chapter Seven may not be necessary.
"I don't share that view," retorted British envoy Emyr Jones Parry.
The draft would oblige Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, the process creating fuel for nuclear reactors and -- potentially -- the core of an atomic bomb. However it merely warns of, in cases of Iranian non-compliance, unspecified "further measures" requiring another resolution.
Western powers suspect Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program but Tehran insists its drive aims to generate electricity only.
The French and British ambassadors also held consultations with the non-permanent members of the council, beginning with the three from Africa -- Congo, Ghana and Tanzania -- ahead of the gathering of the full council in the afternoon.
"We have to clarify things for the non-permanent members who do not necessarily understand what is happening and who see problems or threats where there may not be any," said a Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "This will take time."
"We can't just force things through because the next step if Iran does not comply will be sanctions," he added.
Tanzanian Ambassador Augustine Mahiga called for a parallel "diplomatic initiative" through multiple channels to engage the Iranians and convince them they should comply with UN demands.
Meanwhile Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Azerbaijan that the world community would not tolerate nuclear weapons proliferation.
But Ahmadinejad vowed that his country would pursue nuclear fuel production and branded those trying to stop this as "bullies."
He also stressed Iran's desire to work under the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which last week reported that Tehran had failed to comply with a demand to suspend uranium enrichment.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.