View Full Version : Russia,China may force EU retreat on Iran

09-21-2005, 04:59 PM
Russia, China may force EU retreat on Iran - diplomats
22 September 2005


VIENNA: The EU's three biggest powers are considering backing down from a demand that the UN nuclear watchdog report Iran to the UN Security Council due to fierce opposition from Russia and China, diplomats have said.

Both Russia and China have warned the United States, France, Britain and Germany against escalating the nuclear standoff with Iran, potentially blocking their drive to haul Tehran before the UN's highest body for possible sanctions.

The European Union has circulated a US-backed draft resolution calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) governing board to report Iran's secretive nuclear programme to the Security Council.

But with nearly 15 of the 35 members of the IAEA's governing board opposed to the EU draft resolution including China and Russia the EU is considering dropping its key demand from the current draft resolution to satisfy opponents.

Asked if the EU powers were ready to give up on the idea of referring Iran to the Security Council at this week's IAEA board meeting, one EU diplomat said: "Maybe. Our capitals have to decide how serious it would be if it comes to a vote."

Another EU diplomat said: "My guess is that there won't be a decision from the IAEA to refer Iran to the Security Council this week ... I wouldn't bet my house on no referral this week but delaying the referral decision is more likely."

Western countries suspect Tehran is developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme. Iran insists its programme is peaceful and intended to meet its energy requirements.

Both Russia and China, which as permanent, veto-wielding members of the Council could block any action, warned the West against antagonising Iran with a Council report.

"It will lead to an unnecessary politicising of the situation. Iran is not violating its obligations and its actions do not threaten the non-proliferation regime," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a speech in San Francisco, as quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told an EU team headed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw at the United Nations that sending the Iran issue to the Security Council could be counter-productive, a European participant said.

The diplomat quoted Li as saying that kicking the issue from Vienna to New York "could encourage Iran to take extreme measures" and would not be constructive.

The Europeans could choose to go for a vote and hope the Russians and Chinese back down at the last minute, though several EU diplomats said this was far too risky an option.

Gary Samore, vice president of the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, said he hoped the EU would stand firm.

"I hope the EU3 don't compromise. The draft resolution is excellent. We should force the Russians to vote," Samore, who advised US President Bill Clinton on non-proliferation issues, told Reuters.

"On the other hand, if Moscow promised to support referral after another deadline, I'd be willing to accept a short delay."


The main new option, diplomats said, was for the IAEA board to pass a revised EU resolution declaring that Iran has been in "non-compliance" with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but not explicitly calling for a Security Council report.

"This would leave the door open for a future report to the Council. The new resolution could also set a deadline, in line with the proposal of (IAEA chief Mohamed) ElBaradei," an EU diplomat said.

If Iran did not meet the deadline, the IAEA board could meet again and decide whether to report Iran's NPT "non-compliance" to the UN Security Council.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told Reuters at the United Nations that one of the Europeans' main objectives at the IAEA meeting this week was "to mark the non-compliance of Iran".

Earlier this month, ElBaradei suggested to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the IAEA board impose a deadline on Iran to resume talks with the EU and restore a suspension of sensitive nuclear activities which Tehran ended last month.

Even as EU negotiators considered backing down, the EU hardened its rhetoric, blasting Iran for its determination to press ahead with a programme which could produce atomic bombs.

"We ... regret, and feel deeply concerned by the fact that Iran gives every sign of being intent on developing a fissile material production capability well before the international community obtains what it needs: confidence that Iran's programme is exclusively peaceful in nature," the EU said in a statement on behalf of 25 EU members and other European states.

But Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the Europeans that Iran would never give up its nuclear programme.

"The brave Iranian nation will not accept anything imposed by them," he said, as quoted by Iran's ISNA news agency.

09-21-2005, 05:04 PM
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