Updated 9/20 5:15 PM EST
Though the State Department said of today’s Washington DC meeting between six of the world’s major powers that they were all committed to “exploring possible further measures” to punish Iran in the wake of this week’s IAEA report, they have been, as expected, unable to agree on the content or timing of a future UN Security Council resolution.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack had been warning that this was a likely result since before the talks began, and said that even if they do eventually get a new resolution against Iran it “will be very weak”. Both China and Russia had been expected to dissent from the West’s press for further sanctions.
McCormack said that Secretary of State Rice had pressured Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week to put aside the nations’ differences over Georgia, but given Rice’s rather bellicose rhetoric against Russia the day before the conference it seems unlikely they were in a very cooperative mood.
In addition, China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier in the week that it did not believe sanctions were productive in resolving the dispute, and urged instead a policy of negotiation and dialogue. Both Russia and China are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, so either would have the ability to veto any anti-Iran measures.
The IAEA’s report claimed that the Iranian government was blocking attempts to inspect certain sites which it claimed were linked to the country’s nuclear activities. It cited documents and photographs from the infamous “stolen laptop” which came into United States possession in or around 2004, by way of an Iranian opposition faction which the US State Department considers a terrorist organization.
Iran has refused to allow some interviews and inspections relating to the documents, which it insists are forgeries. It said there was no connection between the requests and their nuclear activities and would
require them to expose classified matters relating to their conventional military arsenal to public scrutiny.