Tuesday, March 14, 2006

UN Security Council deadlocked over Iran

NITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, Britain and France moved a dispute over Iran's nuclear weapons program to the full U.N. Security Council after failing on Tuesday to win Russia and China's support for a proposal to pressure Tehran.

The British-French draft calls on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment efforts, end its violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and end its ambitions on nuclear weaponry. It would ask the IAEA for a quickprogress report.

The five permanent members met for a fourth time on Tuesday morning in search of a deal but broke off after failing to reach an agreement after an hour and a half of talks.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the five would meet again on Wednesday. "We're going to keep talking about this. We think it is important to keep 'perm five' unity," Bolton told reporters. "We are united in our determination to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapons capability."

Russia and China did not want the Security Council involved, because it has the authority to impose sanctions; they wanted the IAEA to retain control.

The United States wants Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the IAEA, to report to the council within 14 days on Iran's compliance. Russia and China want a six-week deadline and want the report to go to the IAEA rather than to the Security Council.

If the split continues, the Western powers may decide to drop the idea of a Security Council statement, which requires the consent of all 15 members. Instead they are considering putting a resolution to a vote and forcing Russia and China to abstain or veto.

Iran rejected an offer from Russia to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil. But it then wanted to reopen the talks, which Moscow's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said would happen soon...just like all the other talks for the past two years while the mullahs works towards nuclear weapons, dispersing and hiding their facilities and improving their air defences.

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