French foreign minister says 6 powers nearing accord on Iran resolution
Monday, December 4th 2006, 10:58 am
By: News On 6
PARIS (AP) _ The six powers seeking a U.N. resolution on Iran's nuclear program are nearing agreement on a text, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Monday.
High-ranking diplomats from the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany will meet Tuesday in Paris to discuss measures to punish Iran for failing to halt the enrichment of uranium.
Uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing can both produce material for atomic warheads, and Iran's lack of complete candor about its programs has fed suspicions in Washington and other capitals that Tehran is trying to make nuclear weapons in violation of its treaty obligations.
Iran insists its only goal is to use enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear reactors that generate electricity and plutonium reprocessing to make nuclear isotopes for medical treatments.
``We want to reach as broad an agreement as possible in the U.N. Security Council,'' Douste-Blazy said in Brussels, according to the French Foreign Ministry. ``Therefore we are gathering tomorrow in Paris, to discuss the text.''
Douste-Blazy said he discussed the Iranian situation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
``We are in agreement with Russia to adopt sanctions against Iran's proliferation program,'' Douste-Blazy said.
On Friday, Lavrov reaffirmed Russia's readiness to back a U.N. ban on exports of nuclear materials and sensitive technologies to Iran, but said U.S.-proposed sanctions were ``too tough.''
A European draft U.N. resolution in October would order all countries to ban the supply of materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It would also impose a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in those programs.
The draft would exempt a nuclear power plant being built by the Russians at Bushehr, Iran, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor.
Russia proposed major changes that would limit sanctions solely to measures that would keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Russia would eliminate any travel ban, asset freeze, or mention of Bushehr.
``We have taken the Russian amendments into consideration,'' Douste-Blazy said.
``We want to reaffirm the unity of the international community,'' Douste-Blazy said. ``We are trying to find a plan that is both firm and effective.''
The U.N. Security Council demanded in July that Tehran suspend enrichment, but Iran instead has expanded that work, recently setting up a second experimental chain of 164 centrifuges to produce small amounts of low-enriched uranium.
Tehran has said it intends to activate 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006 and then increase the program to 54,000 centrifuges. Iranian officials say that would produce enough enriched uranium to fuel a 1,000-megawatt reactor, such as that being built by Russia and nearing completion at Bushehr.
Experts estimate Iran would need only 1,500 centrifuges to produce a nuclear weapon, if it wanted to.