CHINA / National

China opposes Chapter 7 on Iran
Updated: 2006-05-06 09:14

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. [Reuters]

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 legally-binding actions.

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 backs it.

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 atomic bomb.

Iranian officials note that the IAEA has not found a weapons program after three years of scrutiny.