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UN Split by 'Unbridgeable Differences' Over Iran Sanctions


China's U.N. ambassador says Security Council discussions on an Iran sanctions resolution have revealed "unbridgeable differences". He dismissed the talks as "not serious".

China's U.N. envoy Wang Guangya says talks on how to punish Iran for its nuclear activities have been "inconclusive". He said Tuesday's meeting of the five permanent Security Council members revealed deep differences over the meaning of an agreement reached by their foreign ministers last July. "In a number of difficult areas, the differences cannot be bridged. So I believe there should be more reflections in the capitals, and also I believe we need to talk to each other," he said.

Britain, France and Germany last week circulated a draft sanctions resolution that would mandate nuclear and ballistic missile trade sanctions on Tehran. Russia and the United States have since offered amendments that diplomats say "go in different directions" on the sanctions issue.

The Security Council powers met Friday and again Tuesday to talk over the proposals, but each session lasted only an hour.

"The mood is we are not in serious discussions. I understand that some of us feel that the instructions from our leaders when they met in Europe, that the readout here by the ambassadors are not the same," the Chinese envoy said.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton hurried past reporters without saying anything after Tuesday's meeting. But earlier, he accused Russia of backing away from last July's agreement among foreign ministers of the Security Council powers to keep pressure on Iran to end its uranium enrichment. "Well, I don't know how we're going to work it out, because the Russian version is very different than what we think the foreign ministers agreed to," he said.

After Tuesday's talks, Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin downplayed differences with the Europeans and Americans. He described the meeting as "just another day at the office", but admitted there are still deep differences about the intent of the resolution. "There is a gap, but I wouldn't describe it as a fundamental difference because we all continue to pursue this objective of having a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear program, and we are acting under the resolution adopted July 31st," he said.

The push for sanctions on Iran gained strength after Tehran ignored an August 31 deadline set by the Security Council to halt to its uranium enrichment program.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Tuesday said the United States expects Russia to back sanctions.

Asked whether he thinks Moscow is backing away from its July commitment, McCormack said, "We have an agreement with them. There's an understanding that absent Iranian compliance with what the international community has demanded of them, [to] go to the sanctions resolution".