Putting aside differences over Georgia, the United States and Russia
joined other major powers Friday in endorsing a new draft U.N. Security
Council resolution calling on Iran to comply with international demands
to halt its uranium enrichment program. The draft, expected to be
approved by the full council next week, reaffirms existing U.N.
sanctions against Iran but contains no new ones. VOA'S David Gollust
reports from our U.N. bureau.
Unity among the major powers over the Iranian nuclear program appeared fractured earlier this week over U.S.-Russian discord over Georgia.
But after consultations at the United Nations Friday, the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany, the P5+1, were able to agree on a draft resolution that reaffirms the three existing sanctions resolutions against Iran, and calls for full Iranian compliance without delay.
Iran in June rejected a big-power offer of economic and political incentives to halt a uranium-enrichment drive the United States and European allies believe is weapons-related, and to return to negotiations on its nuclear program.
The Bush administration has been advocating a fourth and more severe sanctions resolution against Tehran, especially in the wake of an International Atomic Energy Agency report two weeks ago that Iran is not fully cooperating with its inspectors.
Moscow called off a six-power meeting on Iran in New York earlier this week, making clear its irritation over sharp U.S. criticism of its invasion of Georgia last month.
At a news conference of the Middle East Quartet Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his government does not view additional sanctions as timely at this point.
But, he said Russia agreed to back the resolution reaffirming the existing sanctions to make clear that the P5+1 remains united against Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
"With respect to the resolution that today was tabled on behalf of the six in the Security Council, it pursues the primary goal to clearly reaffirm that no one will have any doubt that the six continue to maintain their unity with respect to the very primary goal that unites us. The goal is to help the IAEA to ascertain that there is no military aspect to the nuclear program in Iran," he said.
For her part, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the new draft shows the unity of the six powers on the dual-track strategy of offering Iran incentives to stop enrichment and penalties if it doesn't.
She said the effort has not yet convinced Iran that the negotiating track is in its best interests but said she hopes there are reasonable people in Tehran who might want a way out from the government's current course and reverse the country's deepening isolation.
Earlier Friday at a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, Rice said she will ask the council to take up the issue of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's verbal threats against Israel.
The Iranian leader has on numerous occasions since taking office in 2005 spoken of wiping Israel off the map, and in a General Assembly speech Tuesday said Israel is on a definite slope to collapse.
Rice said the call by one U.N. member country for the destruction of another is an extraordinary circumstance and should not go unchallenged by the Security Council.
"I think when we have general debates, general discussions in the Security Council, that it is important to take note of the really terrible things that have been said by the Iranian president about the state of Israel, including in his most recent speech before the United Nations General Assembly. I think it simply isn't appropriate in civilized company, and I wanted to make that point," she said.
In his U.N. speech, the Iranian leader also said Zionists dominate world financial centers and manipulate decision-making in the United States and Europe - language denounced by Jewish groups, and by Israeli President Shimon Peres in his U.N. message, as classic and outrageous anti-Semitism.