Security Council postpones Iran meeting

Western countries search for new ways to break deadlock with Russia and China.

UN building 88 (photo credit: )
UN building 88
(photo credit: )
The UN Security Council postponed a meeting Tuesday on Iran's suspect nuclear program, as the West searched for new ways to break a deadlock with Russia and China over the best way to pressure Tehran, diplomats said. The decision came after senior diplomats from the five veto-wielding members of the council and Germany made little headway on bridging their differences during a 4 1/2 hour meeting on Monday evening. Diplomats said Russia was the main holdout, with China following behind. That deadlock has forced Britain, France and Germany, the European Troika leading negotiations on Iran, to reopen the text of a statement that would be the first Security Council response. Diplomats will focus on bilateral talks to try to find an agreement, they said Tuesday. "It just didn't seem like the prudent thing to do to go back into informal consultations and so we'll see what happens this afternoon, we'll just keep working on it," US Ambassador John Bolton said. The United States and its European allies want a statement reiterating demands by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, the process that can be used to generate nuclear power or make nuclear weapons. Diplomats said the Russians and Chinese have not budged from their opposition to tough language including a demand for a report in 14 days on Iran's compliance with the IAEA demands. Moscow and Beijing have said that is not enough time, with China suggesting 30 to 45 days. Russia and China also want the IAEA to keep the main role in cajoling Iran on uranium enrichment. They have raised concerns that pushing Iran too hard could lead to its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and expulsion of IAEA inspectors. "From the beginning I proposed that if the Security Council is to support IAEA, it is to have a brief political statement and support the IAEA, call on the Iranians to cooperate and then I think put some pressure" on them, China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said Tuesday morning. The lack of any significant movement after 10 days could lead the Western nations to abandon the presidential statement, which requires the consensus of all 15 council members, in favor of a resolution which would be put to a vote, one council diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue has not been raised with members yet. That would put Russia and China in the position of having to approve, abstain or veto action against Iran.