The five permanent members of the UN Security Council neared a deal today on a resolution that would give Iran until the end of August to suspend its uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Diplomats said the resolution would probably be introduced to the full 15-member council tonight, with the likelihood that it would be adopted early next week.
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 before the council essentially requires the council to conduct further discussions before it considers sanctions.
“There is no sanctions introduced on Iran in the draft resolution which we are finalising,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Churkin stressed that the work on the resolution was not quite finished, raising the possibility that the introduction of the draft could still be postponed.
“There are some little things which are believed to have some meaning which remain there,” Churkin said.
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 the six countries that have been the main players on the Iranian nuclear issue. They have sought to refer Tehran back to the Security Council for not responding to an offer of incentives to suspend enrichment.
The ministers asked that council members adopt a resolution making Iran’s suspension of enrichment activities mandatory. Tehran 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.
The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear programme is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity, not a bomb.
Ambassadors had initially feared that differences with the Russians and Chinese were so great over the text that they might have to be referred to foreign ministers of the six countries.
But they were able to near a deal among themselves.