Russia, China join West in Iran rebuke at U.N. nuclear meet
Russia and China backed four Western powers on Wednesday to step up diplomatic pressure on Iran to allay concerns that it is developing atomic bombs capability, a day after Israel ramped up threats to attack the Islamic state, reported Reuters.
The United States, France, Germany and Britain as well as Russia and China agreed a draft resolution at the U.N. nuclear agency to rebuke Iran over its expanded uranium enrichment program while making clear their desire to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute which risks a new Middle East war.
Russia and China, critical of unilateral Western sanctions on Iran's oil exports, were initially reluctant to submit a resolution on Iran to the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), diplomats said.
In contrast to the West's and the IAEA's assessments, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week said there were no indications of a military nuclear program in Iran.
The IAEA board is set to vote on Thursday on the text put forward by the six states, involved in a stalled diplomatic push to convince Iran to curb its nuclear activity.
Designed to show big power unity on the matter despite different views on Iran's nuclear program, it seemed unlikely to have any immediate impact on Tehran, which has pressed ahead with its atomic activities despite harsh economic sanctions.
Backing by the six powers means approval by the board is guaranteed, but Western diplomats are keen to ensure near unanimous support in a bid to increase isolation of Tehran, which they suspect wants to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its work is peaceful.
Escalating tension on how to deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that if world powers refused to set a red line for Tehran's nuclear program, they could not demand that Israel hold its fire.
Last November, only Cuba and Ecuador voted against a board resolution censuring Iran after a report by the IAEA, a Vienna-based U.N. nuclear agency, gave details of suspected atom bomb research by Tehran, some of which may continue.