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Council debates Iran, N. Korea

Published July 14, 2006

UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council finds itself having to grapple simultaneously with two threats to the spread of weapons of mass destruction - Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium and North Korea's nuclear arms program and missile tests.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says the council's response will be a test of its effectiveness in dealing with rogue states with nuclear ambitions and protecting innocent civilians.

Key council members met Thursday for more discussions on both countries but took no action.

North Korea and Iran landing on the agenda at the same time is a coincidence, but Bolton said Wednesday that "they are certainly watching each other, and they are watching how the Security Council performs."

North Korea declared in 2004 that it has nuclear weapons, but it was Pyongyang's July 4 test launch of ballistic missiles capable of being equipped with nuclear warheads that put the reclusive communist nation at the top of the council's agenda.

The U.N. nuclear agency first referred Iran to the Security Council in March over fears it is seeking nuclear weapons.

When the council took up Iran, however, the Chinese and Russians balked at U.S., British and French efforts to put a resolution demanding that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, a move that would allow the order to be enforced militarily.

That led to ministerial meetings of the five veto-wielding council nations and Germany, producing an agreement on a package of economic and energy incentives offered to Iran if it suspended uranium enrichment.

The foreign ministers of the six nations will seek a resolution making the suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment mandatory. Bolton told reporters he expected the council to adopt a resolution giving Iran "a limited, fixed period of time" to suspend all enrichment activities.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said Thursday that the council should act "prudently."

Getting agreement on a resolution on North Korea could prove more difficult. Japan, which worries about being a target of Pyongyang's missiles, has proposed a resolution and is pressing for a vote this week.

The Japanese draft, backed by the United States, Britain, France and four other council members, would impose sanctions on North Korea's missile and nuclear programs under Chapter 7, and declare that Pyongyang's recent missile tests were a threat to international peace and security.

China and Russia have objected.

[Last modified July 14, 2006, 02:23:51]

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