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U.N. members still divided on Iran issue

UNITED NATIONS – The United States, France and Britain failed on Monday to get support from China and Russia on a proposed statement pressuring Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment efforts, diplomats said, but they considered putting a resolution to a vote anyway within the 15-member U.N. Security Council.

The day’s events reflected the frustration of the United States and its European allies that a week of closed-door negotiations in New York with China and Russia have failed to yield an agreement.

A push for a vote without such an agreement carries the risk of creating a rift among the council’s most powerful members.

U.S. and European diplomats hope they can increase diplomatic pressure on Moscow and Beijing by involving other council members in the negotiations, according to European diplomats.

France and Britain, the chief sponsors of the proposed statement, scheduled a meeting of all Security Council members for this afternoon at France’s mission to the United Nations, said a council diplomat. They will present elements of a proposed council statement that calls on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador, said he and his European counterparts will continue to press Russia and China to endorse the text at a meeting this morning of the council’s five permanent members.

“We’re trying to hold the perm five together, but reality is reality and time is important given the Iranians continue to progress toward overcoming their technological difficulties” in developing a nuclear weapon, Bolton said.

Iran’s rejection Sunday of a Russian offer to resolve the crisis by agreeing to enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil has strained relations between the two countries. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Iran wants to resume negotiations in Moscow, but he expressed frustration with Tehran’s tactics.

“We are extremely disappointed with the way Iran is behaving in the course of these talks,” said Lavrov. “Iran is absolutely no help to those who want to find peaceful ways to solve this problem.”

The Russian proposal, which is backed by the United States, the European Union and China, has been the subject of fruitless negotiations between the two sides for weeks. “Frankly, I cannot comment on any Iranian refusal because of contradictory signals from Tehran – one moment, they refuse; the next, they do not,” Lavrov said.

Russia and China have urged Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium and to cooperate with the U.N. atomic energy agency. But they vigorously have opposed any initiatives in the Security Council that could potentially lead to the imposition of sanctions or to the use of force against Iran.


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