BERLIN (Reuters) – The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to begin talks next week on a draft resolution that sets out sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on Friday.
But it remained far from clear whether other major world powers supported Washington’s push to penalize Tehran for defying a U.N. demand that it suspend uranium enrichment.
Speaking a day after a meeting with fellow political directors from Germany, Britain, France, China and Russia in the German capital, Burns said additional talks on Iran would take place over the phone on Monday.
“The American view is that following these discussions on Monday and perhaps some others early next week, we should move this to the Security Council and draft a (sanctions) resolution,” he said.
Burns said Washington hoped there would be a draft resolution ready by the start of the U.N. General Assembly. Member states’ leaders and foreign ministers will be arriving in New York during the week of September 18.
But he added that no agreement had been reached on what kind of sanctions should be applied and stressed that he was expressing the view of the United States alone.
Other permanent members of the Security Council, particularly China and Russia, have expressed reluctance to impose sanctions on Iran, which rejects Western accusations it is trying to develop nuclear arms.
At their Thursday meeting in Berlin, the powers agreed that the Islamic Republic had failed to meet a U.N. Security Council demand that it suspend uranium enrichment by August 31 in return for an offer of economic and political incentives.
However, a clear consensus on how and when to move forward appeared to be lacking.
“This is a complex issue,” Burns said. “We obviously need more time, so we decided to meet again on Monday by conference call.”
China and Russia implicitly backed the idea of sanctions by voting for Security Council resolution 1696 in late July, but both question whether sanctions would be effective and whether Iran poses a pressing threat to international security.
Before the Thursday meeting China’s foreign ministry stressed the diplomatic options, calling for the standoff with Iran to “be resolved through negotiation and dialogue in a peaceful way.”
France also indicated it was not yet time for sanctions by suggesting world powers may be flexible over a previous demand that Iran suspend its enrichment work before starting talks.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is due to meet EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Saturday to discuss Iran’s 21-page response to the offer of incentives.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency, citing unnamed diplomats, said the meeting would take place in Vienna.
“All of my efforts and negotiations are now focused on designing a model and a format for the talks that would reduce the differences and help us get closer to one another,” IRNA quoted Larijani as saying in Madrid, where he has been holding talks with Spanish officials.
“As for the talks, when there are many difference of opinion, the parties should go on with the job on the basis of the logic of sound talks”.