Thursday, March 30, 2006

Rice Says Berlin Meeting Will Discuss Iran's Compliance With UN

Todd Zeranski, Bloomberg:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council will use a meeting in Berlin to discuss action to take after the council told Iran to stop enriching uranium.

Rice, who meets today with her counterparts from Russia, China, the U.K. and France, said the group will ``explore further action on Iran,'' according to an e-mailed State Department statement from Washington. READ MORE

The 15-member Security Council yesterday gave Iran 30 days to show compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements to curb its nuclear program in a manner that is verified by the UN nuclear watchdog.

The IAEA sent the matter to the Security Council after concluding that it is unable to say for certain Iran is pursuing nuclear research only for civilian aims. The U.S. government says Iran's program is an attempt to produce a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charge, saying the program is for generating energy.

The Security Council requested the IAEA to report on Iran's compliance in a month's time.

The statement is ``the first major step in the Security Council to deal with Iran's nearly 20-year-old clandestine nuclear program,'' John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said yesterday. The Berlin meeting could now discuss the next step if Iran doesn't comply during the next month, he said.

No Evidence

The IAEA has spent three years investigating Iran and ``not a single indication of the divergent military programs has been found,'' Iran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif said.

Iran's atomic work is ``about a developing country attempting to exercise its inalienable right recognized in the treaty of non-proliferation,'' Zarif said yesterday at the UN.

The IAEA on March 8 confirmed the referral of Iran to the Security Council. In November 2003, the agency accused Iran of ``a pattern of concealment'' about its nuclear program, including the existence of undeclared enrichment work at a plant in Natanz.

Last month, Iran resumed enrichment at Natanz in defiance of IAEA demands, which also called for the country to open military sites to UN inspectors and account for documents related to the procurement of machinery and equipment for its nuclear program.

``Iran is more isolated then ever now,'' Rice said in her statement. The Security Council has sent ``an unmistakable message to Iran that its efforts to conceal its nuclear program and evade its international obligations are unacceptable. It demonstrates that the international community is united in its concern over Iran's nuclear program.''

Talks on Strategy

The ministers meeting in Berlin ``will discuss strategy, and what's next,'' French UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said yesterday. ``We all hope Iran will comply.''

The UN statement dropped language identifying the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as a ``threat to international peace and security'' after objections from China and Russia.

``As many of our European colleagues have said, and as our Chinese friends have said many times, any ideas of resolving the matter by compulsion and force are extremely counterproductive and cannot be supported,'' Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow yesterday, according to the Interfax news agency.

The 30-day deadline for IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to report to the council on Iran's compliance with his agency's demands is a compromise. France and the U.K. wanted a two-week period, while China originally called for a six-week period.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Zeranski at the United Nations at