Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Straw Seeking UN Action Over Iran Nuclear Stance

Tom Baldwin and James Bone, The Times:
Britain will seek support for United Nations action on Iran from the full 15-nation Security Council today after the “Permanent Five” powers failed for a third day to agree a joint approach. The move is a sign that Britain may try to force a vote on a UN resolution seeking a deadline for Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment activities.

A vote would leave Russia and China, which are resisting UN action, in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to use their veto power to block a resolution. READ MORE

British diplomats decided to move to the full 15-member council after a third round of inconclusive talks with fellow “P5” members — China, France, Russia and the United States.

Britain and France, with US backing, are asking for a deadline as short as 14 days for Iran to comply with international demands to suspend enrichment, but Russia and China continue to resist.

Another key disagreement is whether, after the expiry of any deadline, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be asked to report to the Security Council in New York or to the Vienna-based agency’s governing board. We are trying to hold the P5 together first, but reality is reality and time is an important factor,” said John Bolton, Washington’s UN envoy, calling for Security Council action by the end of the week.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday that Britain sought incremental and reversible UN action that reinforces the IAEA and achieves “the strongest possible international consensus”.

Russia, meanwhile, has announced it would hold a new round of talks with Iran, one day after Tehran appeared to reject a Russian compromise proposal to enrich uranium for the Islamic state on Russian soil.

Contradictory signals are coming from Tehran,” said Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. “One day they reject it, the other day they don’t,” he added.

“We are very disappointed with the way Iran has been conducting itself in these negotiations, absolutely not helping those who want to provide for finding peaceful ways to resolve the whole situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.”

The US State Department yesterday expressed scepticism about the prospect of a negotiated solution to the nuclear stand-off with Iran. Parviz Fattah, the Iranian Energy Minister, said that his country would begin building its first indigenous nuclear power plant within six months.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President, also reiterated that he would not back down George Bush yesterday accused Tehran of providing Shia militants in Iraq with the capability to build deadly roadside bombs. “Such actions, along with Iran’s support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats,” he said.