Russia proposes delay in U.N. action on Iran

Russia has proposed a delay in confronting Iran at the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, European Union diplomat &to=' target=_blank>Javier Solana said Wednesday.

"We will have the votes" in the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer the controversial program to the Council at a meeting in Vienna tentatively scheduled for Feb. 2, Solana said.

But, he told reporters after a luncheon meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, the Russian proposal remained under discussion.

"We are talking to the Russians about it," he said.

Also, Solana said, a Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian territory and then retrieve the spent fuel after it is used for civilian energy purposes remains a live possibility.

"We think the Russians have an important role to play," Solana said.

The proposal would postpone action by the U.N. agency until its next scheduled meeting in March.

While the United States and the Europeans have the votes in the &to=' target=_blank>IAEA to refer its complaints about Iran's nuclear activities to the Council, "at this point in time we think we need to get solidarity at the U.N.," Solana said.

If the IAEA refers the Iranian situation to the Council imposing sanctions are not considered likely. But the Council could demand Iran resume negotiations with the European Union.

Just having the dispute before the Council in a formal way "is for them quite important," Solana said.

Russia and China have registered concern that U.N. action on Iran could backfire. As permanent members of the Council they have the power to veto, and block, any resolution.

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