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Iran: Tehran Says UN Sanctions Could Spark Confrontation

Iran reiterated today that any measures taken against its nuclear program by the UN Security Council would lead toward confrontation with the West. Iran threatens to reject any UN Security Council move that goes against the country's "right" to have a nuclear program. Meanwhile, Britain, France, and the United States said on May 6 they are trying to bridge differences with Russia and China on a UN resolution, which could eventually lead to sanctions. The United States says it wants a vote in the coming week, with or without support from Moscow and Beijing.

May 7, 2006 -- Iran warned today that a UN Security Council resolution would spark only confrontation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi told a weekly news conference in Tehran that "adopting incorrect decisions" would have negative effects on cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A draft UN Security Council resolution, put together by Britain and France and backed by the United States, would compel Iran to suspend its nuclear-enrichment activities under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Assefi said this was unacceptable.

Invoking Chapter 7, a move opposed by Russia and China, would make the resolution binding under international law and would allow for sanctions, although a separate resolution would be required to specify either of those steps.

Russia And China

Russia and China fear the resolution could open the way for the use of military force against Iran.

Britain, France, and the United States say they are trying to bridge differences with Russia and China and the draft might be adopted next week.

Speaking on May 6, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said: "I think there are a number of differences, but the strategic objective, which is to keep Iran from having nuclear weapons, I think is still agreed by all five permanent members [of the Security Council], and we're going to try and find a way to get a binding resolution that requires Iran to adhere to a series of consistent decisions by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that's what we're pressing for."

'Major Changes' Required

But also on May 6, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak was quoted as saying that the draft needed "major changes" and that negotiations over the text were "ongoing." Bolton said he hoped a consensus would be found: "We are still working and we again, the five permanent members, to achieve unanimity. Let's be clear that if a permanent member abstains and we have a nine votes majority, the resolution will be adopted. We are not prepared to extend these negotiations. We are working real hard to achieve permanent five unanimity but we are prepared to go for a vote with out it."

France's ambassador to the UN, Jean-Marc De La Sabliere, also expressed hope on May 6: "I think it will be a long day, a working day. This morning we had a P-5 meeting and this afternoon we had a meeting with members of the council. We are moving in the right direction. We have made some progress but there is still a lot of work to do."

However, not everybody agrees with the draft and many say differences remain. Qatar's UN Ambassador Nassir al-Nasser said: "The text language for some delegations is very unacceptable, for other delegations it is accepted. So they are trying to reach a middle-ground agreement. This is the main call so I hope Monday [May 8] when we have the new text, we will discuss it thoroughly and we can resolve all the differences."

Security Council members are due to reconvene for more talks on May 9.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Today, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has "no validity" if Iran is unable to develop what it insists is a peaceful nuclear drive.

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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