UNITED NATIONS, May 3 (Reuters) The United States, Britain and France introduced a UN Security Council resolution today demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment efforts that the West suspects are part of a secret nuclear weapons program.
The text, which is opposed by Russia and China, does not contain any sanctions but threatens to consider ''further measures as may be necessary'' to ensure Iran's compliance -- a veiled way of saying the Western allies would attempt to enact sanctions if Tehran remained defiant.
It also calls on all nations to exercise vigilance in preventing the transfer of materials and technology ''that could contribute to Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and missile programs.'' The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes it legally binding. It gives Iran another chance to comply with the council's demands prior to a deadline that has not yet been decided.
A Chapter 7 resolution allows sanctions or even war to enforce compliance but a separate resolution would be required to activate either step.
Russia and China, which could kill any resolution by using their veto power, are reluctant to endorse anything that might be seen as a step towards possible later sanctions or military action, although this draft does not specifically threaten either measure. However, the Western allies do favor targeted sanctions if Iran defies this resolution.
''This resolution will not deal with sanctions,' US Ambassador John Bolton said, adding that it was not in Russia's interest ''to be within the range of another nuclear power.'' Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry said his country, France and Germany believed ''the Security Council now needs to respond to indicate how it intends to proceed in the light of the absence of compliance by Iran.'' The key paragraph in the resolution states: ''Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development'' and ''suspend the construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water.'' A preamble expresses concern of the proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear program and is ''mindful of the threat to international peace and security.'' LITTLE CHANCE OF QUICK DEAL The foreign ministers of Germany, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China meet on Iran in New York on Monday and Tuesday but there is a scant chance the measure would be adopted before then.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is legal and peaceful and recently even accelerated uranium enrichment but is still far below the level needed to make an atomic bomb.
Its officials argue that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, after three years of scrutiny, has not found a weapons program. They note the IAEA does not consider Iran's program an imminent threat to international peace and security.
''We will not give up our legitimate right (to nuclear technology) because of America's bullying and pressure,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, according to Iran's state television.
''America is trying to impose its policies on its allies by humiliating them and bullying,'' he said. ''Iran's nuclear issue can only be resolved through diplomatic channels.'' REUTERS DKS RK0150