By EDITH M. LEDERER
The Associated Press
Friday, November 3, 2006; 8:59 PM
UNITED NATIONS -- Russia proposed major amendments Friday to a European draft resolution on Iran, saying it wants sanctions limited to measures that will keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles while keeping the door open for negotiations.
China said it had a similar view and supported the proposed Russian changes which would weaken the European text. The U.S., however, contends that the European draft is not tough enough and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said he would be distributing proposed U.S. changes later Friday.
The rival views of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council set the stage for long and difficult negotiations on a resolution to punish Iran for continuing uranium enrichment despite council demands to stop.
The British, French and German draft orders all countries to ban the supply of material and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It also imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in those programs.
The European draft would exempt the initial nuclear power plant being built by the Russians at Bushehr, Iran, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor. It would also limit assistance to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and ban countries from teaching or training Iranians in disciplines that would contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a meeting of the five permanent Security Council members that the Russian amendments shortened the European text. Bolton said "the changes were extensive" and included "a complete line-in, line-out version of edits."
Churkin said the resolution should "preclude situations where people and countries could be helping Iranians in developing uranium enrichment, in developing means of delivering nuclear weapons."
"But at the same time ... it should leave the doors open for our talks with the Iranians," he said.
While Churkin refused to distribute the proposed Russian changes, he indicated that they dropped all references to the Bushehr plant, which he said "has nothing to do with the resolution we are discussing" and is consistent with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Iran has signed.
Both Russia and China have continued to publicly push for dialogue instead of U.N. punishment, despite the collapse last month of a European Union attempt to entice Iran into talks.
The five permanent council members and Germany offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and commit to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program.
But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly and defiantly said his country would continue enrichment, and is not intimidated by the possibility of sanctions.