(photo credit: Associated Press)
The UN Security Council passed a resolution Monday giving Iran until the end of August to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Because of Russian and Chinese demands, the text is weaker than earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold further discussions before it considers sanctions.
The draft passed by a vote of 14-1. Qatar, the only Arab nation on the council, cast the lone dissenting vote.
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany with US backing, is a follow-up to a July 12 agreement - by the foreign ministers of those four countries, plus Russia and China - to refer Teheran to the Security Council for not responding to incentives offered in June to suspend enrichment.
The ministers asked that council members adopt a resolution making Iran's suspension of enrichment activities mandatory.
Qatar's UN Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said that while the demands of the six nations were legitimate, the resolution will only exacerbate tensions in the region and Iran should be given more time to respond. Teheran said last week it would reply August 22 to the Western incentive package, but the council decided to go ahead with a resolution and not wait for Iran's response.
"We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames," Al-Nasser said. "We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran."
Last Friday, Iran called again for international negotiations on its nuclear ambitions and said it was considering the incentives. Western nations have dismissed the idea of such talks without a halt to Iran's uranium enrichment.