UN stalemate over Iran's nuclear programme

UN talks on sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme have ended without agreement. The permanent Security Council members and Germany are still undecided over what sort of measures to take.

More than 3 months after Tehran missed a UN deadline to stop enriching uranium, the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany have been discussing the penalties to impose on the country for refusing to stop uranium enrichment. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to cut ties with European states if they implement sanctions.

“I'm telling you in plain language, that as of now on, if you try, whether in your propaganda or through international organisations, to take steps against the rights of Iran, the Iranian nation will consider it an act of hostility,`` declared Mr Ahmadinejad, ”and if you insist on pursuing this path, Iran will reconsider its relations with you''.

The UN Security Council has been at odds over how to deal with Iran's defiance of the August 31 UN deadline to halt uranium enrichment. The Europeans and Americans want tough sanctions.

“We believe that this resolution should target the ability of Iran to seek technology, financial support or human support, training, that kind of thing, from any of our countries,” said Nicholas Burns, U.S. Undersecretary of State. “This is not a complicated resolution and, frankly, some countries have been dragging their feet and it is time for us to get on with it”.

Russia and China have pushed for dialogue, despite the failure of an EU effort to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table. As the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has put it, “sanctions are disproportionate to the steps taken so far by Iran and offers made by the International Atomic Energy Agency. They will harm the process”.

Meanwhile the French Foreign Ministry says “substantive progress” has been made, bringing the group close to deciding what action should be taken against Iran over a programme that Tehran insists is purely peaceful.