UNITED NATIONS – A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution would give Iran a short time to suspend uranium enrichment and work on a heavy-water nuclear reactor or face the prospect of economic and diplomatic sanctions, a council diplomat said Tuesday.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, the current council president, said the council was starting to work on an Iran resolution. But he gave no details as he headed into a brief meeting with envoys from the United States, Russia, China, Britain and Germany who have been the key players in negotiations with Iran.
Foreign ministers of the six countries expressed disappointment at a meeting in Paris on July 12 that Iran had failed to respond positively to a package of incentives to suspend enrichment. They referred the issue back to the Security Council and asked that members adopt a resolution making Iran's suspension of enrichment activities mandatory.
The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity, not a bomb.
The draft resolution being considered demands that Iran suspend all enrichment activities and related activity on a heavy-water nuclear reactor within a short period, the council diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity since the measure has not been circulated to all council members.
Iran is building a heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak, which is scheduled for completion by early 2009. One of the byproducts of heavy-water reactors is plutonium, which can be used in building nuclear weapons.
The draft calls on the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and the international community to verify the suspension and asks the IAEA to report to the council on Iran's compliance, the diplomat said.
No time frame has been decided but the diplomat suggested it would be about 30 days.
The draft states that if the IAEA reports that Iran has not complied, the council will follow up with measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7 in the U.N. Charter which calls for sanctions that do not involve the use of armed forces such as economic sanctions, banning air travel or breaking diplomatic relations.
Under the proposal, the council would also state that sanctions can be avoided if Iran stops enrichment-related and heavy-water production activities, the diplomat said.
Iran said Sunday that the incentives package aimed at persuading Tehran to stop enriching uranium was an "acceptable basis" for talks, and invited world powers to enter detailed negotiations over its disputed nuclear program. The package would include advanced technology and possibly even nuclear research reactors if Iran suspended enrichment.
Iran has said it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel but has indicated it may temporarily suspend large-scale activities to ease tensions.