Russia has rejected passages in a UN Security Council draft proposing broad sanctions on Iran's nuclear and missile programs, reflecting its differences with the West on how harshly to punish Teheran for defying demands that it stop uranium enrichment, according to a document obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
The document - Moscow's proposed amendments to a Security Council draft resolution drawn up by Britain and France and broadly endorsed by the United States - also waters down Western demands that Teheran stop working on a reactor that can produce plutonium and allow tougher UN inspections of its nuclear program. And it deletes any reference to Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant, being built with Russia's help.
The United States had reluctantly agreed to the European proposals to exempt Bushehr from sanctions in a draft presented earlier this month in attempts to placate Moscow. But UN diplomats said that the Kremlin wanted no mention of it whatsoever to reflect its view that the plant should not be linked to international concerns that Teheran might be working on developing nuclear arms.
Much of the 11-page document consists of passages in the original Western draft struck through by Russian negotiators, reflecting Moscow's insistence on reducing sanctions to the minimum needed to directly target enrichment, which can generate both nuclear energy or be used to make the fissile core of warheads.
Even before the Russian amendments were leaked, senior Security Council diplomats acknowledged the divide, with some suggesting there might be no room for compromise for now in finding common language on sanctioning Iran for its defiance of council demands that it freeze enrichment.
"Clearly, I think in a number of difficult areas the differences cannot be bridged, so I believe there should be more reflections in the capitals and also I believe we need to talk to each other," said Wang Guangya of China on Tuesday after Britain and France outlined their draft at a closed council meeting to the 10 non-permanent members.
In contrast to the Russian amendments, the European draft orders all countries to ban the supply of material and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs and impose a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in those programs.
It would exempt the initial nuclear power plant being built by the Russians at Bushehr, Iran, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor. It would also limit assistance to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, to food, agriculture, medical and humanitarian programs. And it would ban countries from teaching or training Iranians in disciplines that would contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Sharpening the dispute with Russia, the United States has proposed amendments that would strengthen the measures proposed by Britain and France.