France Warns Iran of U.N. Referral
Betsy Pisik, The Washington Times:
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin yesterday threatened to refer Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council, saying, "The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ... calls for a determined response on our part."
"In the nuclear sphere, we have all put our trust in the International Atomic Energy Agency," Mr. de Villepin, whose government is one of three negotiating with Tehran on behalf of the IAEA, told the 15-nation Security Council.
"There are rights to uphold, in particular the peaceful use of nuclear energy. But there are also duties to enforce, for the security of all: If a state fails in its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is legitimate, once dialogue has been exhausted, to refer it to the Security Council." READ MORE
At only the third U.N. Security Council meeting attended by the national leaders of the 15 council members, terrorism also was a focus. The leaders unanimously passed two resolutions -- one aimed at outlawing the incitement of terrorism and the other at preventing conflict, especially in Africa.
For months, France had resisted U.S. pressure to send a dispute over Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations for possible sanctions.
Mr. de Villepin's remarks yesterday came after a failed attempt by France, Britain and Germany to negotiate an end to the nuclear standoff.
A vote by the Vienna, Austria-based IAEA could come as early as Monday.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called yesterday for Iran to be given a final chance to address IAEA concerns.
"Everything points in the direction of a need for more time. So it would be in everybody's favor to give it some three or four weeks," a senior diplomat close to the IAEA told Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity.
The 35-member IAEA board of governors is said to be divided on whether to refer Iran to the Security Council.
The United States was an early advocate to refer Iran to the council, where members can urge Tehran to meet its obligations or face sanctions.
President Bush did not mention Iran by name during either of his two speeches today.
In his first U.N. appearance yesterday, new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not address the nuclear dispute directly.
He denounced the "production and use of weapons of mass destruction, intimidations, resort to the threat or use of force and imposition of destructive wars on peoples."
Mr. Ahmadinejad will address the General Assembly again on Saturday, where he could outline a proposal to avert the standoff with the IAEA.
About 2,000 Iranian exiles who oppose Mr. Ahmadinejad held a demonstration across the street from the United Nations in which they denounced the president as a "terrorist."
As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Tehran agrees to only peaceful uses of atomic energy and must submit to IAEA monitoring of all facilities.