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US, British envoys differ on next UN moves on Iran

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 2 (Reuters) US Ambassador John Bolton said the UN Security Council should be ready to act to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons once the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna refers the matter to the council next week, as expected.

But British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry appeared to take a softer line, saying he saw the council's role as supporting the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, which wants Iran to prove it is not pursuing nuclear arms.

The UN envoys from the two longtime allies, who have been working in close partnership on the Iran issue, yesterday spoke days before a March 6 meeting of the IAEA board of governors, at which the board is expected to forward its latest report on Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council.

The report by Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said the watchdog was still unable to confirm Tehran was not pursuing covert nuclear activities and wanted its total cooperation and solid proof.

The two envoys' differences appeared to center on the Security Council's power to impose punitive measures such as sanctions on UN members, which the IAEA cannot do.

Iran is so far insisting on retaining the ability to enrich uranium on its soil, and has threatened to end all cooperation with the international community and pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if sanctions are imposed.

While Tehran insists it wants only to generate electricity, an enrichment capability could help it make bombs as well.

Jones Parry said he expected the board to report the Iran dossier to the Security Council on March 6.

Asked how he thought the council would then react, he said it would want to deliver the ''simple message'' that Tehran should comply with what the board was asking.

''What we are saying is the dossier is rightly in Vienna, but it is right that the Security Council should be apprised of the situation and should make clear its support for what the board is asking,'' he said.

Bolton, however, said the question before the council was what it was going to do to block Iran's nuclear ambitions, and he said he considered the matter already to have been reported to the council last month.

While the council's five permanent members -- Russia, China, Britain and France in addition to the United States -- had agreed voluntarily last month to take no action before the March 6 IAEA meeting, the dossier ''will be ripe for action'' after that, he said.

He said all five permanent council members had already agreed they did not want Iran to have the ability to enrich uranium on its soil.

''If you say Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable, and that it is appropriate to have Iran in the Security Council, which all five permanent members have said, then you have to ask what is the council going to do about it,'' he said.


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