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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Opposes Draft Resolution on Tehran

UNITED NATIONS -- Facing tough resistance from Russia, Western nations debated Wednesday how to push ahead with a resolution that could trigger sanctions against Iran unless it abandons uranium enrichment, diplomats said.

Russia made its opposition clear during a Tuesday meeting in Paris, where envoys debated how to respond to a report from the UN nuclear watchdog confirming Iran has continued uranium enrichment despite demands that it stop.

Britain, France and the United States had hoped to put a draft of the resolution before the full 15-nation council on Wednesday afternoon. But the opposition from Russia, backed by China, is so strong that the Western allies may delay the introduction, the diplomats said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were secret.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but Western nations, and the United States especially, believe it has been seeking nuclear weapons capability for years.

Russia, which has arms and technology deals with Iran, acknowledges that many questions surround Iran's nuclear program but say there is nothing to confirm it is seeking a nuclear weapon. China backs that view.

The United States favors economic sanctions against Iran and countries that sell it weapons -- or so-called dual-use technology which has both military and civilian uses.

Britain, France and the United States are seeking a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes any demands mandatory and allows for the use of sanctions -- and possibly force -- if they are not obeyed.

There was no indication that the three Western allies would back down on those demands in the face of the Russian and Chinese opposition, even though the two can veto any resolution because they are also permanent members of the Security Council.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the West was negotiating with the Chinese and the Russians in efforts to avoid deadlock over the Chapter 7 issue. Still, he said, it was important to move forward with the draft.

"I'm hoping that we will find a way to persuade them to join with us to have a completely united front," Bolton said. "We have a unanimity of agreement that we should send a strong signal to Iran on this point."

At the Paris meeting, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns predicted Europe would agree within three months to support sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities, which Washington suspects are aimed at manufacturing atomic weapons.

Burns and other U.S. officials have said repeatedly that they would consider going beyond the Security Council and putting together a coalition of allies to impose sanctions against Iran. The United States already has numerous sanctions against the country.

Talks will continue ahead of a May 8 meeting of foreign ministers at UN headquarters.

A senior Russian lawmaker said Tuesday that Moscow would not agree to impose sanctions at this stage, and would reject a Security Council resolution proposed by the United States and its European allies.

Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, told Ekho Moskvy radio that he expected an agreement on a milder resolution at the foreign ministers' meeting in New York.

This could give Iran a deadline of up to three months to meet demands to stop uranium enrichment. If that deadline expires without result, Kosachyov said, a new Security Council resolution would be required to impose sanctions on Iran.