Talks with Iran should avert nuclear crisis
The U.N. Security Council is being called upon to impose economic sanctions against Iran because of nuclear activity.
AN increasingly defiant Iran has brought together the five permanent members of the United National Security Council in an effort to curtail its nuclear ambitions. Notification by Iran's chief nuclear negotiator that it will halt further inspections if the issue comes before the Security Council should result in strong diplomacy averting a crisis.
A resolution sponsored by Britain, France and Germany and supported by the United States, Russia and China directing the issue to the Security Council was approved Saturday by the 35-country board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency's formal report is scheduled for March 6, leaving a month to apply diplomatic leverage.
The report rather than a referral to the Security Council opens the possibility of imposing economic sanctions against Iran but allows Russia and China to opt out of supporting such punitive measures. Meanwhile, negotiations aimed at allowing uranium to be enriched in Russia for use in Iranian reactors can be completed.
In blocking inspections, Iran also said it would resume operation of a uranium enrichment plant, producing material that can be used either to produce electricity or build nuclear bombs. However, it is believed to be at least three years away from building such a bomb.
Although bombastic, Iran cannot be compared with the isolationist North Korea. It craves respect and economic relations with the world, especially with Russia, China and developing countries. In announcing the end of its "voluntary" nuclear cooperation, Iran assured the IAEA. that it does not intend to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA's director, called the report to the Security Council "a critical phase, but not a crisis," adding that it would create a monthlong "window of opportunity" for diplomacy.
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