UN Security Council: discussions on Iran continue

Iran's nuclear ambitions continue to dominate discussions between the permanent members of the UN Security Council. President Bush's recent visit to Moscow once again drew attention to differences of opinion on imposing sanctions on Tehran.

Still searching for a middle ground on how to deal with Iran the US and its allies support European proposed draft UN resolution that includes sanctions and accusing Tehran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program, under the guise of proclaiming strictly civil nature of its nuclear program.

But Russia says this is too harsh, and that less restrictive measures should be applied to coax Iran back to negotiations. As a veto wielding member of the Security Council, it can block the resolution.

It's been a major sticking point in Russia – US relations with Washington striving to overcome Russian reluctance to support UN vote. Russian media analysts have even suggested that Washington may be willing to exchange commitment to sanctions for support of Russia's WTO bid.

Russia says it's merely giving Iran every chance to prove its nuclear intentions are peaceful. Moscow helps Tehran ro build a nuclear reactor in Bushehr. Earlier Russia offered the joint facility to enrich its uranium on Russian soil.

The meeting between Putin and Bush was described as extremely positive, with both sides confirming that Iran had been discussed but there was no official statement on whether any progress had been made. The discussion is expected to resume when the leaders meet again on Sunday in Hanoi.