Wednesday, May 31, 2006

U.S. Accepts Draft on Iran That Omits Use of Force


WASHINGTON — The Bush administration, seeking to enlist Russian support for a United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran, has agreed to language ruling out the immediate threat of military force, American and European officials said Tuesday.

The American agreement has improved the chances that the Russians will go along with the resolution, European diplomats said.

The resolution is to call on Iran to suspend various nuclear activities that are viewed in the West as part of a clandestine weapons program, but that Iran maintains are peaceful in nature.

President Bush called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to press for agreement on a Security Council resolution demanding that Iran stop enriching uranium or face possible punitive action.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office announced that Ms. Rice would fly to Vienna on Wednesday for more talks on Iran with top Russian, Chinese and European envoys. The American goal is to get an agreement on a Security Council resolution this week, for possible approval in June.

Also being negotiated are a package of benefits in nuclear energy, economic activities and security to be offered Iran if it cooperates in ending its nuclear activities. The Europeans are to offer this package with American support, but the Bush administration has quietly expressed misgivings about some of its possible elements.

"I think that we could safely say at this point that we feel like we're in good shape heading into Vienna," Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said at a department briefing.

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