Foreign ministers of the six nations, the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, set to gather in New York on May 8 to continue discussions over the Iran nuclear issue after the five permanent members of the UN Security Council failed to reach agreement on May 5. That indicates the diplomatic wrangle on the issue has entered a crucial stage.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi warned on May 7 that any wrong UN Security Council resolution would turn Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency into its confrontation with the West.
Analysts believe that another round of diplomatic wrangles would be sparkled at the New York ministerial conference.
On April 28 IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a report to the UN Security Council and the IAEA, declaring that Iran did not observe the UN's order for suspension of uranium enrichment program within 30 days. On May 2, representatives of the six countries met in Paris where they exchanged views and prepared for the New York conference of their foreign ministers.
On May 3, Britain and France tabled the first draft resolution to the UN Security Council, demanding Iran to halt any activities related to the uranium enrichment program, or facing "further actions" against it in line with the UN Chapter 7.
The rhetoric of the draft is sharper than expected as the Chapter 7 allows mandatory measures, including military actions, in case of imperiled peace or aggression.
The UN security Council members recognize that a resolution is necessary to send a uniformed, clear signal to Iran, urging Iran to take a more cooperative attitude on the nuclear issue, freeze all uranium enrichment and related activities and accept IAEA inspections.
The fruitless rounds of negotiations between the European Union, represented by Britain, France and Germany, and Iran over the years have pushed the EU closer to the US on tougher attitude toward Iran. The US, which has always advocating economic and military sanctions in case of breakdown of diplomatic efforts, is pressing the Security Council to pass the draft proposed by Britain and France.
However, Britain, France and Germany have not given up the principle of resolving the crisis through diplomatic efforts although they have hardened their stands. Russia insisted that force would not be the way to go no matter what the draft has proposed.
Preference to diplomatic mediation and objection to economic sanctions or military actions prevails both within the Security Council and the whole international community. There are two reasons underlying that.
Firstly, economic sanctions or military strike may not work. Iranian rulers will hardly make any concessions in the face of threat because they need internal unity and public support. External pressure of sanctions will further ignite the antagonistic sentiment of the Iranian government. Most commentators are concerned about disastrous consequences of military strikes on Iran. The Iraqi example is a bitter lesson to learn.
Secondly, it is still possible for Iran to make substantial compromise if it is given a chance to find out an appropriate and decent resolution. What justifies that is Iran's repeated clarification that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons and is willing to cooperate with the international community.
At the end of last month Iran said it would produce a timetable within the following three weeks if the nuclear issue remained "in full, in the framework of the IAEA and under its safeguards".
Analysts think the UN Security Council members will have intensive discussions about the British-French draft in the following days, focusing on whether a Chapter 7 resolution will be adopted and what wording will be used.
It still takes time for the UN Security Council to reach a resolution. It also takes time to know what impact the resolution will have on the Iran nuclear issue.
(People's Daily Online May 9, 2006)