- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2007

NEW YORK — Russia and China reluctantly agreed to consider further U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program yesterday, but they also won a concession from Western powers to delay action for at least two months.

The agreement came after what diplomats described as a lively and detailed discussion among foreign ministers from the five permanent council members, including the United States, Britain and France, as well as Germany.

“The alchemy of this group is such that anything … is going to be a compromise,” said R. Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs.

Washington, London and Paris have been advocating tighter sanctions on Iran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment following two previous council resolutions, but Moscow and Beijing have been resisting.

Yesterday, the ministers agreed to give Tehran at least until late November to accept last year’s offer that would reward a suspension with assistance to build a civilian nuclear program. Iran insists that its current effort is entirely peaceful, but the West fears an undercover weapons program.

The ministers asked European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who also participated in the meeting, to meet again with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and broker a uranium-enrichment suspension. Mr. Solana, whose efforts in the past have failed, is due to report back to the ministers by November.

That same month, Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is also expected to present a report on Iran’s cooperation in addressing outstanding issues about its nuclear activities.

“We agree to finalize a text for a third U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution … with the intention of bringing it to a vote in the U.N. Security Council, unless the November reports of Dr. Solana and Dr. ElBaradei show a positive outcome of their efforts,” the ministers said in a statement.

“We call upon Iran, however, to produce tangible results rapidly and effectively by clarifying all outstanding issues and concerns on Iran’s nuclear program, including topics which could have a military nuclear dimension,” they said.

Mr. Burns, who briefed reporters after the meeting, said that “every country around the table has proposed a variety of sanctions measures that would be included in a third resolution,” but they are far from agreeing on a list.

The lack of a more specific deadline for new sanctions was a victory for Russia and China, which are expected to try to delay them even beyond November. In addition, there is no complete agreement on what exactly “a positive outcome” of Mr. ElBaradei’s report means. In the past, similar documents have managed to appease both Iran and the West.

But Mr. Burns said yesterday’s meeting, held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session here, should make it clear to the Iranians that the case is not “closed,” as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared Monday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki used a speech at the Asia Society in New York yesterday to reiterate that “Iran simply and decidedly does not need the nuclear weapon to protect its regional interests, and such weapons have no place in Iran’s security strategies.”

“Due to Iran’s growing energy demand that will exceed its supply and could bring its oil export capacity to a decline or even to zero in the near future, Iran has an urgent need to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity by 2020,” he said.

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