affairs envoys try to break Iran impasse|
Mon Mar 20, 2006 8:02 AM ET
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Senior foreign affairs officials from the
five veto-holding U.N. Security Council powers and Germany meet on Monday
in an effort to break the impasse over reining in Iran's nuclear
The session, designed to discuss future strategy on Iran, comes as the
Council has been unable for nearly two weeks to issue a statement telling
Iran to stop uranium-enrichment efforts the West believes are a cover for
The draft statement also insists Iran cooperate with the International
Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
"I think that meeting will basically consider the longer range issues,
although obviously in the capitals in Moscow and Beijing, certainly, they
will now have a look at the text," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told
reporters on Friday.
While a majority of the 15-nation Security Council is said to back the
United States, Britain and France, permanent council members Russia and
China distrust any language they feel will lead to sanctions. The draft
statement does not threaten punitive measures.
Both Russia and China have objected to a section of the draft setting a
two-week deadline for the IAEA to report whether Tehran has stopped
enrichment activities, saying it is too short. But France's U.N.
ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, made clear it could be lengthened if
the statement were adopted this week.
China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, suggested four or six weeks and
Russia indicated June, when the 35-nation IAEAgoverning board meets again,
would be a better date.
Wang also said he offered a compromise that Mohamed ElBaradei, director
general of the IAEA, would submit a progress report on Iran to the
Security Council and the IAEA at the same time. This provision is included
in a revised text distributed by the Western powers on Friday.
Moscow is still wary of involvement by the Security Council, which can
impose sanctions, fearing threats might escalate and prompt Iran to cut
all contact with the IAEA. Russia's U.N. ambassador, Andrei Denisov, told
reporters the IAEA should "pilot the process" and the Security Council
should be "informed."
Under a November 2004 agreement with Britain, France and Germany,
negotiators for the European Union, Iran agreed to freeze any uranium
conversion, enrichment and reprocessing activities in return for economic
and political rewards.
Before any incentives materialized, Iran restarted uranium conversion
in August. In February, Tehran began tests on enriching uranium. The IAEA
board agreed to report the issue to the Security Council, which received
the dossier on March 8.
British officials denied during the weekend reports that Britain wanted
to involve the United States in new talks with Iran over its nuclear
Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, said on Friday, "Iran must
do what it is called on to do and that would open the way to
At Monday's session at Britain's U.N. mission will be Nicholas Burns,
the U.S. undersecretary of state, and foreign ministry political directors
John Sawers of Britain, Michael Schaefer of Germany and Stanislas de la
Boulaye of France.
Russia is sending its deputy foreign minister, Sergei Kislyak, and
China will be represented by Zhang Yan, its arms control director.
The full 15-member council meets again on Tuesday.