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UNSC Members Divided over Response to Iran Nuclear Issue
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The five permanent members of the Security Council remained bitterly divided over how to respond to Iran's nuclear crisis, after their UN envoys held a second round of private discussions on Friday afternoon.


At issue are elements of a draft council presidential statement proposed by Britain and France, said diplomats attending the 90-minute meeting at the US mission to the United Nations.


Russia, which is a permanent council member along with Britain, France, the United States and China, insisted the British-French proposals can not serve as a good basis for consultations, they said.


Among the proposals, Russia is particularly opposed to a stringent 14-day deadline for Iran to comply with demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including suspension of its uranium enrichment activities.


The diplomats revealed that Russia suggested a 60-day deadline and the United States came up with a compromise of 30 days.


Britain and France are expected to water down their proposals and put forward a new shorter text early next week.


The diplomats said the existing text calls on the IAEA to "report to the Council within 14 days on the implementation by Iran of the actions it has requested."


"We had a good discussion," Chinese UN Ambassador Wang Guangya told reporters. "We talked about our objectives, how the Security Council can reinforce the role of the IAEA."


But he declined to go into details.


The five powers met for the first time late Wednesday after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded a meeting in Vienna on IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei's assessment report on Iran's controversial nuclear program.


The IAEA's Board of Governors decided in a Feb. 4 resolution to report Iran's controversial nuclear plan to the Security Council after its meeting in early March. The council has received ElBaradei's assessment report.


Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purpose, but the United States claims that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.


In his assessment report, ElBaradei said the IAEA has not seen any diversion of Iran's declared nuclear materials to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.


But he also deplored the fact that insufficient information provided by Iran had impeded the agency's verification work in the past three years.


"Uncertainties related to the scope and nature of Iran's nuclear program have not been clarified after three years of intensive agency verification," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2006)


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