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U.N. Sets Deadline for Iran to Stop Uranium Enrichment

BY Admin  July 31, 2006 at 3:05 PM EST

Iranian Ambassador to the U.N. Javad Zarif

The resolution, a weakened version of a draft sought by Germany, France and Britain with the backing of the United States, demands Iran halt its program, but requires that the council enter further negotiations before imposing actual sanctions.

After weeks of negotiations between the top five U.N. powers, China and Russia still oppose hitting Iran with sanctions.

Moscow’s U.N. Ambassador Valery Churkin said the sanctions provision of the resolution means only that the council would discuss the possibility, Reuters reported.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran of masking a nuclear weapons program. Iran maintains it is enriching uranium for civilian use.

Fourteen countries voted in favor of adopting the resolution Monday with Qatar being the loan dissenting voice.

“We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames,” the country’s U.N. Ambassador Nassir al-Nasser said, the Associated Press reported.

The resolution marks the first time the United Nations has imposed a legally binding demand on Iran in the three years since the country has been in talks with Western powers over its nuclear ambitions.

On Monday, Iran’s foreign minister rejected the U.N. move, reiterating Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for the purposes of generating electricity.

“Iran’s peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security and therefore dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility,” Iranian Ambassador to the U.N. Javad Zarif said, according to Reuters.

Before Monday’s vote, Iran had promised to respond to a package of incentives offered by European nations by Aug. 22.

The package, put forward in June by Germany and the five permanent U.N. members, includes offers of technological, commercial and energy incentives.

Both the United States and Britain had strong words for Iran’s failure to comply with past U.N. demands to suspend its nuclear program.

“Sadly Iran has consistently and brazenly defied the international community by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the continued intransigence and defiance of the Iranian leadership demands a strong response from this council,” U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said.

Emyr Jones Parry, Britain’s U.N. representative, said the council would revoke the resolution if Iran suspends its activity.

“The United Kingdom is deeply disappointed that Iran has given no indication that it is ready to engage seriously on our proposal, nor taken the steps needed to allow negotiations to begin.”