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Why Iran Nuke Talks Postponed

Round table discussions at the UN Security Council.
by William M. Reilly
UPI U.N. Correspondent
United Nations (UPI) Mar 22, 2006
The U.N. Security Council has postponed Tuesday's scheduled closed door consultations on Iran's nuclear program after the permanent five members failed to reach a consensus on a council statement. If one member of the veto-wielding "P5" of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States holds out a council statement, it is scuttled since consensus is required.

Members of the P5 have said they first wanted to signal the council means business before getting down to possible sanctions against Tehran -- if it is deemed such a stringent move to be necessary. Even then, the "measures" that could be ordered up by the panel would probably be to limit travel by Iranian officials.

China and Russia, both with substantial economic interests in Iran, are concerned by Iran's nuclear program not having been certified by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency as strictly for peaceful means. But they are not yet ready to tread too heavily on Tehran, opposing the posting of a deadline for compliance.

They appear to be in favor of a brief, general statement, rather than a reiteration of the IAEA's complaint sent to the council last month.

There was a much ballyhooed meeting of high-level diplomats Monday at the British Mission to the United Nations chaired by John Sawyers, political director of the United Kingdom's Foreign Office.

It was billed as the latest in a series of meetings, and followed up on the exchanges held in London at the ministerial level Jan. 30.

"We had a good discussion today," Sawyers told reporters after the lengthy session. "There is a lot of common ground between us. We share the objective vis--vis Iran and its nuclear program. It's essential that Iran takes the steps required in order to start the process of rebuilding the confidence in its nuclear intentions.

"Those steps that Iran needs to take were set out in the IAEA board resolution of Feb. 4 and we deeply regret that Iran has not yet come into line with those requirements and indeed has ceased cooperation under terms of the additional protocol with the IAEA," he said. "It is continuing with a level of cooperation but not to the extent sought and required by the IAEA board of governors.

Sawyers said the meeting was part of a continuing process.

"Our discussions will continue both here in New York and Vienna and between capitals," he said. "Those discussions about action in the Security Council will continue with the permanent representatives here" in New York.

U.S. Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns said, "The United States very much appraises the unity that has been achieved over the last six months where Russia and China and the U.S. and the European countries have all acted together to pressure Iran and to try to convince Iran to try and give up its search for nuclear weapons capability."

He also positively described the "P5 plus Germany" talks:

"All of us agreed that we will oppose Iran trying to seek a nuclear weapons capability. All of us agreed on that. All of us agreed that Iran is out of compliance with its international commitments. All of us agreed that Iran is now traveling down a road towards enrichment and reprocessing which would be fundamentally detrimental to the interests of the world of nonproliferation and of peace and security.

"And all of us agreed that we should stay united to send one message to the Iranians and to convince the Iranians to roll back their nuclear programs, suspend all their nuclear activities and to return to full negotiations," Burns added.

However, after his litany of accords, he made it clear there was not consensus.

"There will have to be some more meetings this week," the undersecretary said. "There is certainly going to be further contact among our capitals. But we remain convinced that we will achieve a presidential statement.

"It may take a little bit of time but it is going to be worth the time," Burns said. "When we do achieve that statement, it will be another clear, unified, message by the international community that Iran has to heed the words of both the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council."

Source: United Press International

Related Links

US May Propose Tough UN Nuclear Resolution Against Iran
Vienna (AFP) Mar 22, 2006
The United States may propose a tough UN resolution opening the door to punitive action against Iran's nuclear ambitions, if efforts for a softer statement remain stalled, diplomats told AFP Tuesday. "This would up the ante right away," a Western diplomat said.

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