A senior Russian diplomat yesterday criticized the latest Western draft of a UN Security Council resolution on Iran, saying that it would take time to reach a compromise.
"It is too early to say which changes should be made to the draft resolution to satisfy Russia," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said in Moscow, according to RIA Novosti, ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies. "At present consultations are ongoing."
Kislyak didn't elaborate, but Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Friday that Moscow opposes the sponsors' push for the resolution to be adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which can be enforced by sanctions -- or if necessary -- military action.
The US, Britain and France, which drafted the resolution, had been hoping that the UN Security Council would adopt it before foreign ministers of six key nations trying to negotiate with Iran meet in New York tomorrow evening. But it became clear after meetings at the UN on Friday that Russia and China opposed the measure and bridging the divide will be difficult.
The draft also includes a declaration that the "proliferation risk" posed by Iran constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
China and Russia both said they oppose putting the resolution under Chapter 7 or referring to Iran as a threat to international peace and security.
The council agreed to hold an informal meeting yesterday afternoon to go over members' concerns about the text.
Meanwhile, US-allied Gulf Arab leaders who were meeting in Riyadh yesterday were expected to call for a peaceful solution to the crisis between Iran and Western nations over its nuclear ambitions, analysts and officials said.
Gulf Arab countries, wary of Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, share US concerns about Iran having a nuclear bomb but fear another military conflict in the region after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
"These countries do not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon, but they also do not want it taken by force," said Saudi political analyst Dawoud al-Shiryan.
"They want stability in the Gulf and they will call on the world to save the Gulf region from any convulsions," he said.
A GCC official in Riyadh said the political and economic alliance -- which comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- may try to use their close links to Washington to mediate in the dispute.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said in Dubai last week that Iran welcomed any Gulf Arab mediation.