May 3, 2006

Iran faces tough UN resolution

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, Britain and
France introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution on
Wednesday demanding Iran suspend uranium enrichment that the
West suspects is part of a secret nuclear weapons program.

The text, which is still opposed by Russia and China, does
not contain sanctions but goes further than a Security Council
resolution approved in late March. It threatens to consider
unspecified "further measures as may be necessary" to ensure
Iran's compliance, a veiled warning of sanctions the West wants
if Iran does not comply.

The draft calls on all nations to "exercise vigilance" in
preventing the transfer of materials and technology "that could
contribute to Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing
activities and missile programs."

The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter,
which makes it legally binding. It gives Iran another chance to
comply prior to a deadline that has not yet been decided but
diplomats hoped it would be in early June.

A Chapter 7 resolution allows sanctions or even war to
enforce compliance but a separate resolution is required to
define and activate either step.

Russia and China, which could kill any resolution by using
their veto power, are reluctant to endorse anything that might
be seen as a step toward possible later sanctions or military
action, although this draft does not threaten either measure.

However, the Western allies want targeted sanctions if Iran
defies this resolution, including a transfer of nuclear
technology as well as a travel ban on individuals.

"This resolution will not deal with sanctions," U.S.
Ambassador John Bolton said, adding that it was not in Russia's
interest "to be within the range of another nuclear power."

Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, who drafted
the measure along with Germany and France, said he would like
to see the measure adopted by Monday, before a meeting in New
York by foreign ministers from Germany and the five permanent
council members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia
and China.

But diplomats believe this is not possible and Jones Parry
admitted, "I never predict timing, as I am always wrong."

The key paragraph in the resolution states that "Iran shall
suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities,
including research and development" and "suspend the
construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water."

Iran since 2004 has been building a heavy water reactor at
Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran, which experts say raises
concerns because it could produce bomb-grade plutonium.

Heavy water, also known as deuterium oxide, is used in
certain types of nuclear reactors to slow down neutrons so they
can react with uranium in the reactor.

A preamble expresses concern of the proliferation risks
presented by the Iranian nuclear program and is "mindful of the
threat to international peace and security."

Iran maintains its nuclear program is legal and peaceful
and recently even accelerated uranium enrichment but is still
far below the level needed to make an atomic bomb.

Its officials argue that the International Atomic Energy
Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, after three years of
scrutiny, has not found a weapons program. They note the IAEA
does not consider Iran's program an imminent threat to
international peace and security.

"We will not give up our legitimate right (to nuclear
technology) because of America's bullying and pressure,"
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, according to
Iran's state television network.

"America is trying to impose its policies on its allies by
humiliating them and bullying," he said. "Iran's nuclear issue
can only be resolved through diplomatic channels."

(Added reporting by Irwin Arieff and Carol Giacomo at the
United Nations)