U.N. Council to Chastise Iran but May Sidestep Sanctions
Warren Hoge, The New York Times:
The Security Council is considering a statement listing multiple failures by Iran to meet the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency over its nuclear program and urging it to comply, but making only passing mention of punishment for continued resistance.
A draft of the document, which the Council members have indicated they hope to issue next week as a nonbinding presidential statement, says the Council continues to hope for a negotiated solution "that guarantees Iran's nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes."
In the only reference to what would occur in the absence of any agreement, the draft says that "continued enrichment-related activity would add to the importance and urgency of further action by the Council." The draft was made available by a diplomat in response to a request from The New York Times. READ MORE
The Council received the dossier on Iran on Wednesday from the atomic energy agency, which is the nuclear monitor for the United Nations. The five veto-bearing nations — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — held a meeting that night and have scheduled another session for Friday.
The United States has suggested that if Iran does not accede to the nuclear agency's demands, the Council will have to look at sanctions against Tehran, but the opening action at the United Nations was shaping up as less confrontational.
"I think we all feel a sense of urgency, and that's certainly been communicated, but we're going to proceed in a deliberate and orderly fashion as well," John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, told reporters on Thursday. "How long and to what extent we pursue this in the Council, I think, principally rests in the hands of Iran."
The draft, composed by Britain and France and incorporating American policy goals, says the Council's purpose is to reinforce the authority of the atomic energy agency and its resolutions, which call on the Iranians to suspend all enrichment-related reprocessing activities.
The text calls for a report back to the Council on whether Iran is cooperating from the director general of the nuclear agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, "within a short time frame" after the statement is adopted. Diplomats have not settled on what that time frame would be, but two participants in the meeting discouraged reports that it meant as little as two weeks.
The statement focuses on Iran's failures to live up to agreements with the nuclear agency and expresses "serious concern" about the role of Iran's military in the nuclear program and about evidence that the real purpose of the program is to build bombs.
In particular it notes that Iran has kept suspicious documents from the nuclear black market that describe shaping uranium metal in "hemispherical forms." Experts have said this suggests the making of nuclear bomb cores. Iran has told the agency that the document was provided — without its asking — by an international smuggling network that was run by a rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The text also demands that Iran ratify and put into effect the "additional protocol" to the country's nuclear agreement that gives inspectors from the United Nations agency the right to ask for exceptional access to plants. It also asks for "additional transparency measures," including access to individuals and documents, and to research laboratories. Mr. Bolton took issue with a comment by Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, who was United Nations ambassador during the Council's deliberations leading up to the war in Iraq. After meeting with Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday, Mr. Lavrov told reporters that he had a "déjà vu" reaction to the current activity.
"The first question to ask is, do you care if Iran adheres to the resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency?" Mr. Bolton said. "And if you care, as we do, then you will understand why we are here at the Security Council pursuing multilateral diplomacy in an effort to thwart this threat to international peace and security by peaceful and diplomatic means.
"If that's 'déjà vu,' then so be it."