VIENNA, Austria - – Russia has rejected passages in a U.N. Security Council draft proposing sanctions against Iran's nuclear and missile programs, reflecting differences with the West on how to punish Tehran for its atomic program, according to a document obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
Moscow's proposed amendments to European-sponsored draft resolution, which is broadly endorsed by the United States, also weaken Western demands that Tehran stop working on a reactor that can produce plutonium and allow tougher U.N. inspections of its nuclear program. And it deletes any reference to Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant, being built with Russia's help.
The United States had reluctantly agreed to the proposals from France and Britain to exempt Bushehr from sanctions in a draft presented earlier this month. But U.N. diplomats said that the Kremlin wanted no mention of it whatsoever, to reflect its view that the plant should not be linked to international concerns that Tehran might be trying to develop nuclear arms.
The proposed changes from Russian negotiators reflect Moscow's insistence on reducing sanctions to the minimum needed to directly target enrichment, which can generate both nuclear energy or be used to make the fissile core of warheads.
Senior Security Council diplomats have acknowledged the divide before, with some suggesting there is not yet common language on sanctioning Iran for its defiance of council demands that it freeze enrichment.
"Clearly, I think in a number of difficult areas the differences cannot be bridged, so I believe there should be more reflections in the capitals, and also I believe we need to talk to each other," Wang Guangya, China's U.N. ambassador, said Tuesday.
In contrast to the Russian amendments, the European draft calls for a ban on the supply of material and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It also seeks a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in the programs.
It would exempt the Bushehr plant, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor. It would also limit assistance to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to nuclear expertise, food, agriculture, medical and humanitarian programs. And it would ban countries from providing training to Iranians that could contribute to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Sharpening the dispute with Russia, the United States has proposed amendments that would strengthen the measures proposed by Britain and France.