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Russia, U.S. agree on Iran nuke resolution

Russia and the United States have agreed to seek a new U.N. resolution calling on Iran to comply with previous demands to suspend uranium enrichment but imposing no new sanctions, U.N. diplomats said Friday.
/ Source: news services

Russia and the United States have agreed to seek a new U.N. resolution calling on Iran to comply with previous demands to suspend uranium enrichment but imposing no new sanctions, U.N. diplomats said Friday.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the brief resolution will affirm the three previous ones, which imposed progressively tougher sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its enrichment program and urged Tehran to comply.

The new resolution has the agreement of ministers from the six key players in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program — Russia, the U.S., Britain, France, China and Germany, Miliband said.

It will be introduced at a Security Council meeting Friday and could be put to a vote as early as Saturday if the 10 non-permanent council members agree, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

The United States, Britain and France have been pressing for a new round of sanctions to step up pressure against Iran for its continuing refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a prelude to talks on its nuclear program. But Russia and China objected to new sanctions.

The proposed new resolution is a compromise — no new sanctions but a tough statement to Iran that Security Council resolutions are legally binding and must be carried out.

Russia on Tuesday scuttled high-level talks on imposing new sanctions on Iran that had been set for Thursday between the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Even sanctions opponent China had agreed to the meeting.

U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sought to downplay the move, saying the time wasn't right for the session. But they had previously said such a gathering would be useful and necessary to get a fourth Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran.

Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful and designed to produce nuclear energy, but the U.S. and Europeans suspect Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Tehran needs the ability to produce nuclear fuel because it cannot rely on other nations to supply enriched uranium to the Islamic regime's planned reactors.

Twin-track strategy
Miliband said the new resolution would reaffirm the six countries' determination to continue pursuing their twin-track strategy — offering a package of benefits to Iran if it suspends enrichment and pursuing sanctions if it refuses.

"We look forward to that resolution being passed, and we also look forward to full engagement by the government of Iran with the very significant offer that is on the table to them," he said.

Also Friday, Rice denounced Iran's president for calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and said the U.S. would ask the Security Council to take up the issue.

"The United States of America will be asking that the Council convene again to take up the matter of one member of the United Nations calling for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, in a way that simply should not be allowed, if you will pardon my saying so in polite company," Rice said.

The new Israeli U.N. ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, also urged the Council to "reject extremism, such as Iranian President Ahmadinejad's toxic anti-Israel and anti-Semitic provocations."

Meanwhile, the Quartet of key players trying to promote peace in the Middle East — the U.N., the U.S., the European Union and Russia — were meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the Palestinian president also urged the U.N. Security Council to save the faltering peace process by demanding an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

The new Israeli U.N. ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, said "while settlements remain a delicate issue, they are not the principal one."

Brown calls for 'new global financial order'
Among world leaders addressing the General Assembly on Friday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for "a new global financial order" to resolve the financial crisis currently roiling world markets.

"For we must build a new global financial order founded on transparency, not opacity, rewarding success not excess, responsibility, not impunity, and which is global not national," Brown said. "We must clearly state that the age of irresponsibility must be end."

Haiti's president implored leaders to commit to long-term solutions to help his nation after hurricanes and tropical storms killed hundreds of Haitians, saying a "paradigm of charity" would not end cycles of poverty and disaster.

"Once this first wave of humanitarian compassion is exhausted, we will be left as always, truly alone, to face new catastrophes and see restarted, as if in a ritual, the same exercises of mobilization," President Rene Preval said.

At least 425 people were killed in the storms, and the U.N. has only received 3.4 percent of its $108 million appeal for relief after the storms, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.