July 20, 2006 in Nation/World

Russia says Security Council ‘is not in a rush’ over Iran

Nick Wadhams Associated Press
 

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council is in no rush to pressure Iran over its suspect nuclear program, Russia said Wednesday, striking a more conciliatory tone than the United States as diplomats began discussing a resolution to put legal muscle behind demands that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the council wants an answer sometime soon to a June 5 package of incentives that six world powers offered to Iran if it stopped enrichment. But he stressed the council is not trying to push Tehran.

“We are not in a rush at all,” Churkin said. “We do not want to ambush Iran in any way. We’re very much in a negotiating political mode. We do not want to dictate things to Iran.”

“Nobody’s pushing Iran anywhere,” he said.

Churkin’s remarks seemed distinctly more relaxed than the message that was sent on July 12, when foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. met and expressed disappointment that Iran had failed to respond positively to the package.

They referred the issue back to the Security Council and asked that members adopt a resolution making Iran’s suspension of enrichment activities mandatory.

The Russian tone contrasted with Washington’s. The U.S. has been vocal in its frustration with the Iranian response so far.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Washington had instructed him to get a resolution on Iran passed by the end of the week. But with the council so busy on Lebanon, and negotiations on Iran likely to take several days, other diplomats said that seemed unlikely.

The five permanent members of the council met Wednesday to trade ideas about the language of a new resolution. The dynamic appeared to be the same as it was when the council haggled over a statement confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions in March: China and Russia looking for weaker action, with Britain, France and the U.S. seeking a tough response.

While an outline for a draft exists, the negotiations are now focused on the complex diplomatic language of Security Council resolutions.

A draft circulated by the United States calls for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and other international experts to verify Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment. Enriched uranium can be used to produce both nuclear power or weapons. Iran has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The draft did not set a deadline for Iran to comply.

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