- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

LONDON — Six major world powers agreed yesterday to discuss United Nations sanctions against Iran after the top European negotiator with the Islamic republic told them that Tehran had rejected their demand to suspend uranium enrichment.

A meeting of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and five other foreign ministers ended with confusing accounts about what was decided, with a joint statement saying that they “will now consult on measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter.”

Article 41 reads:

“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”

“We’ll go for sanctions,” R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters traveling with Miss Rice. “The question is what their extent will be.”

Mr. Burns, who attended the meeting, said that there was no agreement on what sanctions will be adopted, but he said that he and other officials from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China began discussing a list of sanctions informally two weeks ago in New York.

Those officials will hold a video conference during the first half of next week, after which the matter will be handed over to the U.N. Security Council, he said.

Mr. Burns’ comments reflected his Monday remarks to The Washington Times that Russia and China agreed during a dinner with Miss Rice in New York last month to move to sanctions if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment.

But on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Warsaw that imposing sanctions would be “extreme” and not constructive.

“I think that until all diplomatic possibilities have been exhausted, sanctions would be extreme,” he said. “I think we need to do all we can to push Iran toward starting negotiations.”

Mr. Lavrov did not make a statement after yesterday’s meeting, but Mr. Burns said that the decision to begin discussing sanctions had been unanimous. Before the meeting, Mr. Lavrov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying, “We do not rule out additional measures.”

In an apparent gesture to Russia and China, the participants agreed not to withdraw the offer of economic and technological incentives they made to Tehran in June.

Asked if there was any room for interpretation of “measures” in Article 41, Mr. Burns said, “Measures mean one thing and one thing alone — sanctions.”

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who read the joint statement after the meeting, said the ministers were “deeply disappointed” that European foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has been negotiating with the Iranians, “has had to report that Iran is not prepared to suspend its enrichment-related reprocessing activities.”

A senior U.S. official said the discussion next week will begin with sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear industry, and not its oil and gas sector.

“There is an issue of the credibility of the Security Council and the international system and you simply can’t just keep talking with no outcome,” Miss Rice said during her flight to London from Iraq’s Kurdish north, where she was delayed by technical problems with a military aircraft she flew on.

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