VIENNA, Austria — The U.S. and its Western allies have persuaded Russia and China to support a resolution critical of Iran’s nuclear defiance in the intention of showing Israel that diplomacy is an alternative to military force in pressuring Tehran, diplomats said Wednesday.
The resolution, which demands that Iran stop activities that could be used to make nuclear arms, cannot be enforced by the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), even if approved by vote or consensus as expected Thursday.
But with Israel increasingly floating force as an alternative to failed international efforts to curtail suspected Iranian nuclear activities, the document is significant in seeking to show world-power resolve in pursuing a diplomatic solution to the standoff.
Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a mortal threat, citing Iran’s persistent calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, its development of missiles capable of striking Israel, and Iranian support for Arab militant groups.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. But it refuses foreign offers of reactor fuel if it stops making its own through uranium enrichment — a process that worries the international community because it could be used to arm nuclear warheads, too.
With fears increasing about the possibility of an Israeli military attack and other diplomatic efforts on Iran deadlocked, diplomats told the Associated Press that a resolution supported by the six powers seeking to engage Tehran about its nuclear program had become a priority discussed at the highest level.
The text was agreed on only after consultations involving Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her counterparts in Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, said the diplomats, who demanded anonymity because the negotiating process was confidential.
While the four Western powers had no differences, it was unclear until Wednesday whether Russia and China — which Iran has relied on to blunt harsh U.N. and other sanctions — would agree to join in backing the resolution.
The diplomats said they were persuaded largely with the argument that a signal of big-power unity had to be sent to Israel.
A Russian diplomat refused Wednesday to discuss how the accord on the resolution came about.
The current unity came at a price for the West, which had to settle for compromise language in the text of the resolution, made available to the AP outside the closed meeting.
While expressing “serious concern” over continued Iranian uranium enrichment in defiance of the U.N. Security Council, the six nations say they back the “inalienable right” of countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. That is a bow to arguments by Iran, an NPT signatory, that it has a right to enrich uranium.
The resolution “stresses” that the IAEA has not reported any nuclear material missing from Iran sites it is monitoring. Missing material could mean that Tehran is using it elsewhere for weapons purposes.