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Major Powers Fail To Break Impasse Over Iran

US ambassador John Bolton.
by Staff Writers
New York (AFP) Mar 23, 2006
Envoys of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security held informal contacts here Wednesday but failed to break an impasse over a draft statement urging Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. US ambassador John Bolton hosted the gathering at his country's UN mission which was attended by his counterparts from Britain, China, France and Russia.

"No agreement," Russian Ambassador Andrei Denisov told reporters after the 90-minute session which he described as "constructive".

"We truly tried to keep unity of our small group ... We still need time to consult," he added.

"The consultations continue," Bolton said.

After two weeks of talks, the 15-member Security Council is unable to agree on a Franco-British statement that aims to reinforce demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran halt activities such as uranium enrichment which could aid weapons development.

Tuesday the council postponed a scheduled formal meeting to allow more time to narrow differences the text. No new date has yet been set.

Diplomats said the talks are bogged down over Russian and Chinese objections to any hint of punitive measures in the statement.

On a visit to Beijing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow's opposition to issuing a nuclear "ultimatum" that involves sanctions.

"This draft includes formulae that will practically prepare the ground for introducing sanctions against Iran, so it is unlikely that we will be able to support this draft as it is," he said of the Franco-British text.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice however voiced confidence Washington and its allies would reach agreement on a text to pressure Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons ambitions, even if it takes longer than previously thought.

She made her comments following a meeting of Caribbean foreign ministers in the Bahamas, as the Security Council struggled to hammer out a response to concerns that Tehran was using its civilian nuclear program to covertly seek a weapons capability.

"We will come up with a vehicle (for addressing the Iranians), I am quite certain of it," the chief US diplomat told a news conference. "If it takes a little longer, I'm really not concerned about that."

Washington and its European allies have been pressing Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and return to negotiations aimed at weaning them from suspected nuclear ambitions with economic and other incentives.

Iran denies claims that it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists that as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to conduct uranium enrichment.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Frenchman Faces Trial Next Month Over SKorean Military Documents
Seoul (AFP) Mar 23, 2006
The head of the South Korean office of French defense company Thales is expected to stand trial next month for violating laws protecting South Korean military secrets, prosecutors said Wednesday. Bernard Favre d'Echallens, 65, was charged Tuesday with two counts of obtaining classified documents concerning radar equipment for the South Korean Navy, they said.







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