|Full Coverages>World>Iran Nuke Issue>News
Big Security Council members agree on Iran
Moscow and Beijing joined the U.S. and its European allies in demanding Monday that Iran fully suspend its nuclear program, while Vladimir Putin held out hope for a compromise, saying Tehran might agree to move its uranium enrichment program to Russia.
The powers stopped short of referring the issue to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions, instead calling for an emergency board meeting of the International Atomic Energy on Feb. 2-3 to discuss the issue. The 35-nation IAEA board could itself refer the issue to the Security Council.
The stepped up diplomatic activity came nearly a week after Iran removed U.N. seals at its main uranium enrichment plant and resumed research on nuclear fuel after a two-year hiatus.
The move alarmed the West, which fears Iran intends to build an atomic bomb. Iran claims its program is peaceful, intended only to produce electricity and it has threatened to end all cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if it is brought before the Security Council.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that she wants a vote as soon as possible on whether to refer Iran to the council and is working to line up support.
"We've got to finally demonstrate to Iran that it can't with impunity just cast aside the just demands of the international community," Rice said while traveling in Africa.
The Russian president suggested there might still be hope of avoiding that path, saying Iran has not ruled out conducting its uranium enrichment in Russia, which would allow for close oversight.
In Moscow, Putin said the Iranians had indicated "they did not exclude the implementation of our proposal."
"In any case, it's necessary to work carefully and avoid any erroneous moves," he added.
Iran's ambassador to Moscow praised the idea.
"This is a good initiative to resolve the situation. We believe that Iran and Russia should find a way out of this jointly," Gholamreza Ansari said in comments translated into Russian and shown on state Channel One television.
The U.S. and the Europeans need support from Russia and China for referral
because they have veto power in the Security Council.