Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Security Council deliberations on Iran
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council failed to reach an accord on Tuesday on how to respond to Iran's nuclear programs even as President George W. Bush warned Tehran could blackmail the world if it had the bomb.
Russia, backed by China, wants to delete large sections of a Franco-British draft statement the Security Council has been studying for nearly two weeks as a first reaction to Iran's nuclear research, which the West believes is a cover for bomb making.
Russia is concerned about how deeply the 15-member Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, should get involved in the Iranian crisis.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang emphasised that "China and Russia have common views on how to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue."
"Our objectives are to solve the issue in a peaceful way through negotiations," he said, as Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Beijing.
Moscow has offered to process uranium for Iran in an attempt to break a stalemate but Tehran has so far refused.
Russia's objections to the draft statement are many. It wants a provision deleted that mentions "peace and security," fearing it could lead to a resolution that requires mandatory action and could lead to sanctions, China reported.
And it wants individual points, mentioned in IAEA board resolutions, only referred to by document numbers.
"I believe that the Russian concern has its logic," said China's U.N. ambassador Wang Guangya when asked if he agreed.
Russia has also proposed North Korea-type talks with Iran among the five permanent council members, Germany and the IAEA's director general Mohamed ElBaradei. This would take the issue out of the Security Council.
"They argued for two tracks," said Wang. "On one hand you put pressure, on the other hand show a way out of this."
My colleague Ray Takeyh has been a lone voice saying that if you want to keep unity among the P-5 members as well as other key players like India, you may have to adopt the North Korea model of multi-power talks where the U.S. is directly involved. It will be interesting to see if China and Russia can convince the Europeans to move in this direction.
I would like some of what they're smoking. It's obviously potent stuff!
The Bush administration is going through some of the motions that suggest a goal of regime change in Iran but I don't see the intensity of purpose that was evident in the months prior to the Iraq war of 2003. The administration doesn't want a nuclear Iran but doesn't seem to want to reach a point where it must act to prevent one. We might stumble into a war but I don't really see an eagerness to provoke one.
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