- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The United States accused Russia yesterday of undermining the U.N. Security Council’s effort to impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran and of backing away from an agreement with the other permanent council members earlier this year.

Ending months of publicly expressed confidence that Moscow would support Washington’s campaign to punish Tehran as long as all other diplomatic options had been exhausted, John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, cast doubt on prospects for a U.N. resolution in the near future.

“I don’t know how we are going to work it out, because the Russian version [of the resolution] is very different than what we think the foreign ministers agreed to,” Mr. Bolton told reporters in New York.

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“We don’t think the Russian text is consistent with what foreign ministers had agreed previously,” he said, referring to a July meeting in Paris where Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their colleagues decided to push for sanctions if Iran did not suspend uranium enrichment.

Britain, France and Germany circulated a draft resolution last week and formally introduced it in the council yesterday. Germany is not a permanent council member but has been involved in the Iran issue since the beginning.

The draft demands that all countries prevent the financing, sale and supply of equipment or technology contributing to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It also would ban travel and freeze the assets of individuals and entities involved in the programs.

But Russia, backed by China, suggested numerous changes on Friday that would delete some sanctions and weaken the rest.

Earlier last week, Mr. Lavrov said the European draft was too harsh. He later said he would agree to some penalties if they had a defined time frame and a mechanism for lifting them once they had achieved their goal.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, accused Mr. Bolton yesterday of breaking a private agreement among the permanent Security Council members not to criticize one another publicly.

“We think our tool kit is full of tools,” he said. “For some reason, for some people, there is only demands and sanctions, only hammer and sickle.”

Mr. Churkin objected to a U.S.-proposed amendment to the European draft that would label Iran’s nuclear program a “threat to international peace and security.”

“We have taken out of that draft all things that we believe aren’t timely and not proper for this particular resolution,” he said.

At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack played down the disagreement, saying that negotiations will be long and have their “ups and downs.”

“We are going to get there,” he said. “The Russians have their own views on how hard to press the Iranians and how fast to do that. We understand that. We think it is important, however, for the credibility of the Security Council and the entire international community that we now go to a sanctions resolution.”

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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