Russia and China on Friday opposed key provisions in a U.N. draft resolution
that orders Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, making an agreement unlikely
before ministers come to New York next week.
US Ambassador to the
UN John Bolton speaks after Security Council consultations about Iran's
nuclear program, at the United Nations, in New York, May 3, 2006.
Both nations object to the use of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, used in
dozens of Security Council resolutions for peacekeeping missions and other
Although Chapter 7 allows for sanctions and
even war, a separate resolution is required to specify either step.
"I think we have serious difficulty with Chapter 7 and the threat to
international peace and security. These are the basic ones," China's U.N.
ambassador, Wang Guangya, told reporters.
He was referring to a paragraph in the resolution's preamble that indicates
Iran's nuclear program was a "threat to international peace and security."
Wang said both provisions should be struck, even though Chapter 7 is basic to
France and Britain, which drafted the resolution, and the United States, which
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the main
purpose of the resolution should be to back the International Atomic Energy Agency, the
U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"It's clear this resolution is not about sanctions because they are not in
the resolution," he said. "It is clear that this resolution is not providing
legal ground for the use of force. Everybody agrees on that."
Churkin said the use of Chapter 7 "might in fact detract from the strength of
this resolution because (it) might be detracting from our goal of supporting the
IAEA in its activities in working with Iran."
The resolution, introduced on Wednesday, would compel Iran to suspend its
nuclear enrichment activities. It does not call for any other action if Iran
does not comply, but the United States has made clear that sanctions would be
the next step.
The draft also says the Security Council "expresses its intention to consider
further measures as may be necessary to ensure compliance," a veiled threat of
sanctions without imposing them.
Negotiations now concern formulas that would make the resolution legally
binding but exclude any hint of the use of force, diplomats said.
"The issue whether there is another way that is acceptable is something that
we have asked the Russians and the Chinese to provide. We are waiting to hear
how one might do that," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters.
Bolton had wanted an agreement before foreign ministers from Germany and the
five permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, France,
Russia and China -- meet on Iran late on Monday. This now seems highly unlikely,
council members said.
Still, all 15 council nations will discuss the resolution on Saturday at
Britain's U.N. mission.
The Security Council in late March issued a nonbinding statement asking Iran
to abandon uranium enrichment, a process than can lead to a nuclear weapon or
produce fuel to generate electricity.
The council asked for a report within 30 days from the IAEA, whose director,
Mohammed ElBaradei, said on April 28 that Iran had not complied.
Iran maintains its activities are legal and peaceful. It recently accelerated
its pace of uranium enrichment but remains far below levels needed to make an
Iranian officials note that the IAEA has not found a
weapons program after three years of scrutiny.