- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Britain and France yesterday introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution that will set the stage for sanctions against Iran, as President Bush and Germany’s chancellor presented a united front, demanding that the Islamic republic abandon uranium enrichment.

Diplomats at the United Nations said they hoped that the resolution, which is backed by the U.S. but opposed by China and Russia, will be adopted before a meeting Monday in New York of the foreign ministers of the six major powers.

The resolution mandates that Iran “shall suspend all enrichment related and reprocessing activities,” according to the text presented to the council. The text also threatens “further measures as may be necessary.”

At the White House, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphatically supported Mr. Bush, saying both nations are “in total agreement, saying that under no circumstances must Iran be allowed to come into possession of nuclear weapons.”

“We also think that it is essential in this context that the clear resolve of the international community is shown by standing united, by showing cohesion on this matter. And what is also essential and indeed crucial in this context is that we try to draw as many partners as possible into the fold and to clearly show to the Iranians that this is unacceptable,” she said.

Mr. Bush echoed the stance.

“It’s very important that the international community send a clear message to the Iranians that a nuclear weapon is unacceptable,” he said. “The Iranians must understand that we won’t fold. … Our partnership is strong, and for the sake of world peace, they should abandon their nuclear ambitions.”

In New York, John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the ball is in Iran’s court.

“Once again, the key to this lies in Iran’s hands. If they give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons, a lot of things are possible. If they continue to bluster and to threaten and obfuscate and try to throw sand in our eyes, then we’re onto a different circumstance.”

The resolution was written under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes the demands mandatory and allows for sanctions and possibly force if the demands are not met. Sanctions would require another resolution. That could set up a showdown with Russia and China, which adamantly oppose such a tough stance and can veto any such resolution.

Asked whether a Chapter 7 resolution was acceptable, Wang Guangya, China’s U.N. ambassador, shook his head and answered, “No, no, no.” Russia’s ambassador also was noncommittal.

The resolution was drafted by Britain, France and Germany, but Western officials at the United Nations said negotiations with Moscow and Beijing were possible.

“The fundamental point is for Russia and China to agree that this is a threat to international peace and security under Chapter 7,” Mr. Bolton said. “If they are prepared to accept that, which I see as central to the resolution, we will see what else is possible.”

When asked at the White House to describe the sanctions he would push, Mr. Bush said, “That’s the kind of question that allies discuss in private.”

Mr. Bush made a bit of unintended news when he announced that he would be traveling to Germany in July as part of a trip to Europe for the Group of Eight summit in Russia. The stop in Germany was being kept secret, and Mr. Bush realized as soon as he said it that maybe he shouldn’t have.

“Am I supposed to say that?” he said to staff members while reporters laughed.

• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

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