Major world powers meeting Friday in New York agreed to delay a new UN sanctions resolution against Iran until November. The five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany said sanctions will be enacted then, unless Iran responds positively to nuclear inquiries by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. VOA's David Gollust reports from our U.N. bureau.
The United States, France and Britain had been pushing for the immediate imposition of tougher sanctions against Iran, while Russia and China had wanted to put off any action until the IAEA had completed nuclear talks with Iran.
Under a compromise reached at a meeting hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the veto-wielding Security Council members agreed that a new sanctions resolution will be adopted in November, unless Iran is fully cooperative with the IAEA and a renewed overture to Tehran by European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana.
In remarks after the meeting at Rice's New York hotel, Bush administration officials downplayed suggestions the outcome was a setback for the United States and said Iran has been sent a tough and strict message.
Rice told reporters the United States will continue a two-track strategy to force Iran to halt nuclear activities believed weapons-related, one in the Security Council and the other with financial penalties by like-minded countries outside the U.N. framework.
"We've always wanted to keep the two tracks underway," she said. "One is the negotiations track, and after all, we are working to finalize the text in this period of time. And I think that a finalization of the text is going to take a little time and we are going to work of that. We of course will continue to pursue those measures that we are pursing on the basis of financial measures that may help convince the Iranian regime that it's time to change its course."
The P-Five-Plus-One grouping asked European Union chief diplomat Javier Solana to make another approach to Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani on the EU offer last year of incentives, including civil nuclear cooperation, if Iran dropped its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activity.
At the same time, IAEA chief Mohamad ElBaradei will continue with his initiative with Iran, under which Iran agreed last month to answer longstanding IAEA questions about covert Iranian nuclear activity.
A third and more severe sanctions resolution would go forward in November unless Solana and ElBaradei can report success.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed Moscow's support for the strategy, which he said maximizes chances for a negotiated outcome of the nuclear issue.
"We will be waiting for the report of ElBaradei on how his arrangements with the Iranian agencies to close down their remaining issues are being implemented," he said. "We will wait for a report from Javier Solana who would be continuing his discussions with Secretary Larijani, and then we will be designing next steps in the Security Council taking into account these events."
No specific date in November was set for completion of the El-Baradei and Solana inquiries, in order to provide some flexibility in the nuclear diplomacy.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the U.N. this week its cooperation with the IAEA should end the matter, a contention dismissed by the United States as badly mistaken.