Another last chance for Iran

10.05.06

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov)

Iran is being given another chance to avoid sanctions and offered
compensations for voluntary self-restrictions on nuclear programs. The
question is whether Tehran will accept them.

The traditional format of ministerial meetings on the Iranian problem - the
five permanent UN Security Council members (Russia, the United States,
China, Britain and France) plus Germany (as a member of the European Trio in
talks with Iran) - has failed to agree on a UN Security Council resolution
on Iran. The Council did not even hold the vote on the draft, which had been
scheduled for last Tuesday. Russia and China, which have the right of veto,
reiterated their objection at the meeting of the six foreign ministers in
New York.

Talks about a new set of proposals to Iran started immediately afterwards.
If Tehran accepts the demand of the international community and returns to a
"peaceful nuclear program," it will be given some advantages and
reimbursements in the political and economic spheres and, possibly, some
security guarantees.

Experts from the six countries are still working on the draft resolution.
The five permanent Security Council members instructed the European Trio -
France, Britain and Germany - to prepare a number of compensations for Iran.
According to U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, the compensations will
be based on Russian and European suggestions. The details have not been
disclosed.

However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on Wednesday arrived in
Jakarta with a state visit, has already announced that Iranian people are
"outraged" by the "wrong decision" of the international community and that
Tehran is determined not to yield to pressure that is forcing it to give up
development of new technology. Describing concerns about the Iranian nuclear
program as "a big lie," he emphasized that the program was "entirely"
peaceful. In other words, the Iranian leader shows no intention of breaking
the deadlock. How can the UN Security Council respond?

In the backrooms of the UN headquarters there are rumors that the permanent
members have agreed to offer the Iranian authorities some beneficial
measures or, if it continues to persist, to introduce international
sanctions. Draft sanctions will be worked out by the European Trio.

Moscow is very cautious in commenting on the situation. According to Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Security Council is working on the draft
using the report of the IAEA director general and seeks to send "a signal to
Iran on the need to address the serious concerns of the international
community." The concerns are caused by Iran's reluctance to respond to
numerous demands of the IAEA Board of Governors that it suspend enrichment
and answer questions related to its past activities and nuclear program.

At the same time, debates on the form of the resolution are ongoing, Lavrov
said.

Russia and China have their own arguments in favor of a diplomatic and
negotiated solution of the Iranian problem. They insist that there is still
a possibility of such a solution. Yet Tehran should understand that "still"
does not mean "always"; it does not even guarantee more or less long term
prospects. -0-