Russia is urging an end to wide-ranging inspections of Iraq's suspected nuclear facilities, claiming there's no evidence that the Mideast nation was still trying to build nuclear weapons.
Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov on Friday confirmed circulating such a proposal among the 15 Security Council members. But Lavrov said he would not insist on immediate action when the council meets Monday to review the 7-year-old economic sanctions against Iraq."I'm sure we are not going to table it," Lavrov said after consulting throughout the day with other council ambassadors. "We submitted it only yesterday, and . . . we want others to have time to react."
Diplomats said the Russians wanted to try to win over the Americans and the British before pushing for a decision. The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said consultations would continue through the weekend.
In offering the proposal, the Russians cited a report this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that says it found no indication that Iraq was still trying to construct nuclear arms.
Lavrov said "it is time for the council to recognize" the findings of the latest IAEA report. Lavrov said he would make this argument during Monday's council meeting even if he did not submit a formal resolution.
If approved, the Russian proposal would not end all international surveillance of Iraq's nuclear research programs. But it would shift to "passive monitoring" of known Iraqi research facilities.
It would sharply curtail the wide-ranging investigations of suspected clandestine nuclear research facilities, which the IAEA has carried out since 1991 along with the U.N. Special Commission, which is looking for banned long-range missiles and biological and chemical weapons.
Such a resolution, if approved, would have no effect on the commission's inspections for missiles, chemical and biological weapons.
Both the commission and the IAEA must certify that Iraq has dismantled all proscribed weapons before the Security Council will lift economic sanctions imposed in 1990 after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.