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UNSC gives Tehran Aug 31 deadline

August 01, 2006

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UNITED NATIONS, July 31: The United Nations Security Council on Monday passed a watered down resolution which urged Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment by Aug 31 or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Iran immediately rejected the resolution saying it would only make more difficult negotiations concerning a package of incentives offered in June for it to suspend enrichment.

“All along it has been the persistence of some to draw arbitrary red lines and deadlines that has closed the door to any compromise,” said Iran’s UN Ambassador Javad Zarif. “This tendency has single-handedly blocked success and in most cases killed proposals in their infancy.

“This approach will not lead to any productive outcome and in fact it can only exacerbate the situation,” he said.

On Russian and Chinese demands, the text was toned down from earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold more discussions before it considers sanctions.

The draft passed by a vote of 14-1. Qatar, which represents Arab states on the council, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Explaining his ‘no’ vote, Qatar’s UN Ambassador Nassir Al Nasser said that while the demands of the six nations were legitimate the resolution would only exacerbate tensions in the region and Iran should be given more time to respond.

“We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames,” Al Nasser said. “We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran.”

Drafted by Britain, France and Germany with US backing, the resolution follows a July 12 agreement by the foreign ministers of the four countries plus Russia and China to refer Tehran to the Security Council for not responding to the incentives package.

The ministers asked that council members to adopt a resolution making Iran’s suspension of enrichment activities mandatory. The resolution includes that demand and calls on all states ‘to exercise vigilance’ in preventing the transfer of all goods that could be used for Iran’s enrichment and ballistic missile programmes.

After the resolution was adopted, Mr Zarif told the council that it had no legal legitimacy to demand Iran suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing. He repeated Iran’s claim that it had every right to pursue nuclear technology and that it did not want to develop nuclear weapons.

US Ambassador John Bolton said: “We hope this resolution will demonstrate to Iran that the best way to end its international isolation is to simply give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

“We look forward to Iran’s full, unconditional and immediate compliance with this resolution. We hope that Iran makes the strategic decision that the pursuit of WMD programs makes it less and not more secure,” said Mr Bolton.

Tehran said last week it would reply to the western incentives package on Aug 22, but the council decided to go ahead with a resolution and not wait for Iran’s response.

The resolution would call on the International Atomic Energy Agency to report back by Aug 31 on Iran’s compliance with its demands. If Iran did not comply, the council would move to adopt political and economic sanctions, the resolution said.