Ambassador sees chance to resolve Iran issue through talks

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin speaks during a UN Security Council at the UN headquarters June 9, 2010 in New York (AFP Photo / Emmanuel Dunand)
Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin expressed confidence that sanctions on Iran could produce the desired effect and have talks with the Group of Six started.

The UN Security Council will not consider the possibility of new sanctions against Iran any time soon, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said at a news conference in Moscow on July 14.

The Iranian nuclear program will not re-emerge in the Security Council in the foreseeable future, “at least from the point of view of formulating new sanctions-based decisions,” Churkin said.

According to the envoy, there is a good chance now to solve the issue through talks. However, he stressed that the signals Tehran has sent recently were “not encouraging.” The Iranian leadership insists on its right to enrich uranium and has set a number of conditions to start talks with the six-nation group (five permanent Security Council members and Germany).

Tehran makes “excuses why they are not ready to begin the dialogue and to discuss their nuclear program at the talks,” Itar-Tass quotes Churkin as saying.

Churkin described the current situation as “still hovering on the brink.” But he stressed that Russia and its international partners are ready to start such talks “as soon as Iran decides that joining the negotiations meets its interests."

“Russia acts inventively in this direction trying to get Iran’s partners interested in the resumption of the talks,” the envoy added.

Spy scandal not to affect diplomats’ work

The recent spy scandal between Moscow and Washington will have “no effect at all” on the work of Russian diplomats in New York, Churkin assured journalists.

However, he declined to comment further on the issue. “This has nothing to do with me,” the diplomat said, adding that he did not even read about the story in the newspapers.

G20 for economy, not politics

Russia believes the Group of Twenty should focus exclusively on economic issues, Churkin said. “It should not be involved in politics. Otherwise, there could be a danger of a certain rivalry with the UN Security Council, which would be harmful.”

The activities of the G20 should be “harmonized” with those of the United Nations, the ambassador said. The participation of the UN Secretary General in the G20 meetings helps this, he noted. “On the other hand, it is important that the G20 participants follow the key discussions at the UN,” he was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

Some believe that the G20 should discuss political problems as well, but in this case the group “will inevitably compete with the Security Council,” the ambassador said. He made it clear that this situation would not benefit Russia or the UN.

Better coordination between the UN and the G20 may be arranged at the upcoming UN Millennium Development Summit in New York due on September 20-22, Churkin noted.

Bigger role for Russia in peacekeeping operations

Moscow should step up its activities in UN-led peacekeeping missions, Churkin believes. According to him, Russia is now ranked 44th or 45th among countries involved in such activities.

If Russia decides to contribute more peacekeeping contingents, it should coordinate some financial aspects as “purely financial problems” between the Finance Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the UN Secretariat.

Moscow may contribute more helicopters to peacekeeping operations, Churkin said. Currently, Russian helicopters are participating in peacekeeping operations in Chad and the Central African Republic. These missions could end this year, the envoy added.

“Crusade” against rewriting of history

Churkin described as his “personal crusade” the struggle for a resolution about new forms of racism. The document should condemn such principle aspects as attempts to rewrite history and justify fascism.

Russia has been trying for five years to have the resolution adopted, Churkin said. The only country that does not support the proposal is the United States, he added. Washington explains its position by the fact that the document allegedly “contradicts the freedom of speech,” the envoy noted.

“I cannot understand how condemning Nazis’ marches could contradict the freedom of speech,” Churkin said.

He added though that “the work” with President Barack Obama’s administration “is continuing.”

“We hope that the US will abstain or even support the resolution at the 65th UN General Assembly,” Churkin concluded.

Sergey Borisov, RT