Iran's top United Nations diplomat has accused Western powers on the Security Council of provoking a crisis over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Council diplomats are working overtime on a legally-binding measure that would require suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment work.
Iran's U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif Thursday charged that a British-French draft Security Council resolution requiring Tehran to halt uranium enrichment is aimed at creating an artificial crisis.
The draft resolution introduced a day earlier and backed by the United States would carry the force of law under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter. It demands that Iran suspend "all enrichment related and reprocessing activities", and halt construction of a so-called "heavy water" nuclear reactor.
As the five veto-wielding Council powers met to discuss the language of the text, the Iranian envoy described it as confrontational. "If anything, this draft indicates the intention of those who drafted it to create a crisis where a crisis is not needed, to create an atmosphere of tension which our region does not need, and which can be avoided simply by allowing serious reasonable sober discussions on valid proposals," he said.
The Iranian envoy said if the draft is an attempt to get Tehran to agree to cooperate, it is "not a good one." He said Iran does not respond well to threats and intimidation.
He noted that his country had suspended uranium enrichment for two years during negotiations with Britain, France and Germany. Those talks eventually proved fruitless.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton denied the proposed resolution was an attempt to provoke a confrontation. He called the draft a straightforward measure consistent with a previous Security Council statement in March, and earlier resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "It requires a strategic decision by Iran to give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons. They do that, they have a possibility of living in a different kind of world. If they don't do that, then we have to consider what next to do in the Council," he said.
Bolton said negotiations are proceeding at a feverish pace in hopes a resolution could be adopted by Monday. That is when the foreign ministers of the five permanent Council members plus Germany meet in New York for what is called an Iran "strategy session".
Russia and China have expressed reservations about making the resolution legally binding under Chapter Seven of the charter. But Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya suggested Thursday that Beijing might accept a narrowly-worded resolution. "I'm not sure if we can work successfully, constructively, we will be ready. We will see how this text could be improved," he said.
Groups of Security Council diplomats have scheduled at least two meetings Friday to discuss the Iran draft, and have signaled they would work through the weekend in hopes of agreeing on language acceptable to all members by the time the foreign ministers arrive on Monday.