03/16/2006, 00.00
IRAN – UNITED NATIONS
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Divided but not yet opposed Security Council members examine Iranian nuclear threat

Role of IAEA and Council itself sees US, Great Britain and France split from Russia and China. According to the White House, the "US may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran".  For Secretary Rice Iran is "the central bank for terrorism".

New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Security Council is going to issue a warning against Iran for its nuclear enrichment programme, but its permanent members have not yet agreed as who should get Tehran to comply. All five members agree that the programme is dangerous, but the US, France and Great Britain believe that the Security Council should take action, whilst Russia and China would rather see the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) do so.

British-French draft proposals call for a report to the Security Council in two weeks on Iran's compliance with demands that it suspend uranium enrichment. Russia and China are concerned that a tough line could spark an Iranian withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and expulsion of IAEA inspectors. Both countries reiterated calls for diplomatic efforts, involving the IAEA, to convince Iran.

An agreement amongst the five veto-wielding countries is not impossible though. China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said: "If they [the French and the British] modify their text, make it short, concise and with a short political message." And, for now, sanctions are not in the cards.

The US wants "to strengthen the IAEA's hand," US ambassador John Bolton said. "Every day that goes by permits the Iranians to get closer to a nuclear weapons capability."

The ambassador's words echo the 'National Security Strategy' of the United States, a blueprint by the White House that suggests that the "US may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran".

Notwithstanding the Iraqi situation, the blueprint states that the US is ready to carry out preventive attacks against those who threaten it. And US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is in Sydney (Australia) on an official visit, called the Tehran regime "the central bank for terrorism".

In an apparent disregard for such warnings, Iran still says it wants to negotiate with Moscow, but in the West its stance is treated as a tactic to gain time until it can face the world with its own nuclear weapons as a fait accompli.

It is significant that IRNA, Iran's official news agency, quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that despite the fact that US and the Zionist regime are putting pressures on Iran to divert the country's attention from the crucial Palestinian issue, his country "will definitely continue its efforts to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and support the oppressed Palestinian nation".

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi here said the latest Iran-Russia nuclear talks in Moscow were satisfactory, with the two sides reaching an agreement that Tehran case should be settled within the framework of the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA.

Today however, the Iranian parliament is discussing in camera the political and economic effects UN sanctions might have.

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