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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
Russia resists UN threat to Iran
An Iranian nuclear scientist
Iran denies that it is seeking to make nuclear bombs
Russia and China have openly opposed Western efforts to take Iran to the UN Security Council over Tehran's controversial nuclear activities.

The US and EU have been pressing for Iran to be referred to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions.

But Moscow and Beijing may block the plan, with Russia saying the current situation was "not irreversible".

Iran has threatened to bar snap inspections of its nuclear sites if it is referred to the Security Council.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani also said Tehran would also consider pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and resume uranium enrichment if the "language of force" continues.

Unresolved issues

Iran resumed its sensitive uranium conversion work in August, after talks to persuade it to give up its nuclear ambitions failed.

The International Atomic Energy Association is discussing Tehran's move, which Iran insists is for peaceful purposes.

However, the US and the EU fear Iran's nuclear activities could be a cover for work on making nuclear arms.

France, Britain and Germany, negotiating on behalf of the EU, have circulated a rough draft of a resolution to members of the IAEA board of governors.

The draft, according to a copy obtained by the Reuters news agency, would refer Iran to the Security Council for "failures and breaches of its obligations to comply" with the NPT.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he agreed that Iran should not become a nuclear power.

But the country, which has the power of veto on the Security Council, has been calling for more diplomacy.

The latest Russian statement is likely to disappoint the Europeans and the Americans who are pushing hard for the referral, says the BBC's Bethany Bell at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

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