Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday a new draft UN Security Council resolution on Iran over its nuclear program largely met Moscow's concerns and could become the basis of a consensus decision.
"The new resolution prepared by the EU3 (European big three) that is now being discussed in the Security Council has to a large extent taken into account our approaches," Sergei Lavrov told the Interfax news agency in an interview.
"We are counting on... being able to come to a consensus decision in the UN Security Council that will prompt the Iranians to sit down to negotiations and provide active and full cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) on all the remaining questions relating to Iran's nuclear activity," he said.
It was not clear if these comments by Lavrov, in an exclusive interview with Interfax in which he reviewed Russian foreign policy in 2006, represented a diplomatic shift by Moscow.
Western nations are pushing for a vote this week on a Security Council draft resolution, which imposes sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions.
Russia, which has close economic ties with Teheran, has, with China, been cautious up to now on the resolution, drafted by the Europeans and supported by the United States.
The resolution is a reaction to Iran's failure to comply with an August 31 UN deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for bombs.
Iran says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful means, while the US and major European governments believe its research is a cover for bomb-making.
Russia, which from the start of the crisis has been cooler on sanctions, has objected at the United Nations to several provisions in the draft, including a travel ban and a list of Iranians subject to an assets freeze.
Lavrov said the new resolution in particular "focuses on those spheres of nuclear activity which arouse the IAEA's concern the enrichment of uranium, chemical processing and heavy water programs, as well as limiting deliveries to Iran of goods and technology which are related to the creation of nuclear weapons delivery systems."
He made no specific reference to the travel ban or other areas where Russia has been at odds with Western nations.
(China Daily December 20, 2006)