West puts UN pressure on Iran

Iran Materials 4 May 2006 11:38 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - The United States, Britain and France pressed ahead with a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding that Iran curb its nuclear ambitions and said they would push for targeted sanctions it if it does not.

But Russia, which has veto power in the council, on Wednesday made clear it would not support any sanctions but indicated it could back an initial resolution if it were modified. The Western draft did not impose punitive measures, reports Trend.

In Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country helped draft the measure, said she still hoped for a diplomatic resolution but did not spell out new steps.

"We are in total agreement saying that under no circumstances must Iran be allowed to come into possession of nuclear weapons," Merkel said.

Still, there have been calls in Germany and in the United States Congress for the Bush administration to engage in direct talks with Iran on its nuclear programs, which U.S. officials so far have rejected.

Iran maintains its activities are legal and peaceful. It recently even accelerated its pace of uranium enrichment but remains far below levels needed to make an atomic bomb.

One key provision in the legally binding resolution demands that Iran suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development as well construction of a heavy-water nuclear reactor.

Iran since 2004 has been building a heavy water reactor at Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran, which experts say raises concerns because it could produce bomb-grade plutonium.