NEW YORK – Iran's top U.N. envoy criticized a proposed resolution on its nuclear program that carried a threat of further action which could include sanctions, charging Thursday that it's aimed at provoking confrontation rather than resolving the dispute.
Ambassador Javad Zarif said it was regrettable the United States, Britain and France were taking a confrontational approach because "there are a multitude of possibilities for finding a peaceful resolution."
"If anything, the draft indicates the intention of those who drafted it to create a crisis where a crisis is not needed, to create an atmosphere of tension which our region does not need, and which can be avoided simply by allowing serious, reasonable, sober discussion," he said.
Under the proposed draft, the Security Council's demand in late March for Iran to stop enrichment would be made mandatory, and Tehran would be given a short period to comply. If it refuses, the resolution says the council intends to consider "further measures" to ensure compliance.
The sponsors want the resolution adopted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter which can be enforced by sanctions — or if necessary — military action. The draft also includes a declaration that the "proliferation risk" posed by Iran constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
The resolution, which was introduced Wednesday by Britain and France and was strongly supported by the U.S., put the three Western allies at odds with Russia and China, the two other veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council who adamantly oppose strong council action and sanctions.
The five permanent members met Thursday afternoon to discuss the text and agreed to meet again Friday morning.
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said there was a better understanding of each other's views but "we have some different views about Chapter 7."
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United States is trying to achieve unanimity among the five permanent members and the major issues are putting the resolution under Chapter 7 and calling Iran a threat to international peace and security.
"I believe the resolution does not serve any purpose other than pushing the issue into a confrontation," Zarif said. "There are possibilities for cooperation but this resolution ... indicates the intention of the drafters of the resolution to prevent cooperation and to move into confrontation."
Zarif reiterated that Iran "does not respond well to threat and intimidation."
"I think Iran has made it very clear that we are prepared to move forward with transparency measures. Iran is prepared to a negotiated solution," he told reporters.
Bolton countered that "the only confrontation here is provided by the Iranians. ... If they'd give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons, all kinds of things would be possible."
Iran insists it has the right to enrich uranium for a peaceful nuclear energy program under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iranian authorities say the country is trying to achieve self-sufficiency in the technology despite growing international pressure to stop enrichment because of concerns that Iran's real goal is to produce nuclear weapons.
Zarif said the real issue is not suspending enrichment — which Iran did for two years with no results — but to find a way to implement two pillars of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, guaranteeing Iran's rights and guaranteeing nonproliferation.
"Iran is certainly ready for both these elements and we will do everything possible in order to guarantee them both," he said.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the supporters of the resolution prefer cooperation but the report by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said Iran had refused the council's demand to halt enrichment.
"We've been on this case for 2 1/2 years," he said. "All the time we were talking, Iran was developing enrichment capability and research and development capability."