China and Russia have agreed to support a United Nations resolution demanding
that Iran suspend uranium enrichment or face economic penalties, France's
foreign minister said after a major-power meeting in Paris.
Philippe Douste-Blazy, after conferring with U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and their counterparts from the U.K., China and Russia as well
as Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, said the issue of
Iran's nuclear program would be returned to the UN Security Council. He
expressed the group's "profound disappointment" over Iran's refusal to respond
to an offer of incentives to stop enriching activities.
The council was deadlocked early last month before Solana presented Iran with
the package of incentives. China and Russia, veto-bearing members of the
Security Council, opposed a U.S.- backed measure demanding that Iran stop
enrichment activities and threatening sanctions and the use of armed force.
The group in Paris adopted a statement saying they would seek a Security
Council resolution that would make it "mandatory" that Iran stop enriching
uranium. In the event of non-compliance, the statement said they would negotiate
a measure that invokes the UN Charter's authorization of "complete or partial
interruption of economic relations" and "severance of diplomatic relations."
"We don't have any choice but to go back to the UN Security Council and
restart the process we started two months ago," Douste-Blazy said. "We launch
an appeal to Iran to respond positively."
"Iran has failed to take the steps needed to allow negotiations," the
French foreign minister said, in a statement on behalf of the entire group.
The U.S. and the Britain are among countries that say they suspect Iran is
concealing a weapons program. Solana's office said he would travel to London
tomorrow for talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair that will include a discussion
of the dispute with Iran.
At the UN in New York, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he would begin talks
today on the draft resolution that was under discussion before the Security
Council deadlock. He said the U.S. wanted to get action on a measure condemning
North Korea's ballistic missile tests before moving forward on Iran next week.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, called for patience yesterday
after he met in Brussels with Solana. Larijani repeatedly has said Iran won't be
held to a strict deadline to reply to the EU offer, which includes trade
incentives and technology assistance.
"We had hoped that Mr. Larijani yesterday would transmit
an answer" on the incentives offer, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow told
reporters accompanying President George W. Bush to Stralsund, Germany, where he
is meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel before the Group of Eight summit.