Austria unmoved by Iran’s push
VIENNA — Iran’s push to avoid new UN sanctions appeared to make little headway yesterday with Austria, with the Security Council member saying the onus was on Tehran to defuse international concerns about its nuclear agenda if it wanted to avoid fresh penalties.
Austria and other nonpermanent members of the 15-nation UN Security Council are the targets of a diplomatic offensive by Tehran designed to stave off a US-supported push for a fourth set of Security Council sanctions for its nuclear defiance.
The Vienna visit of Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister, followed a trip by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, to Uganda, another nonpermanent member.
In Kampala on Saturday, Ahmadinejad blasted the United States and Britain, which also supports sanctions, saying that while Washington and London “say they are concerned about the building of a nuclear bomb [by Iran] . . . they are lying,’’ and describing the Western push for new sanctions as illegal.
Mottaki, speaking to reporters in Vienna, sounded the same theme, saying “the talk of sanctions is unjust,’’ and insisting his country had broken no international laws.
Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president, had been noncommittal, telling reporters his country would decide on its position after consulting other African nations.
Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger of Austria was blunter, saying only cooperation by Iran could derail the push for sanctions.
“We want a clear change of course by Iran,’’ he said. “We want guarantees that Iran’s nuclear program is meant exclusively for peaceful purposes. It is up to Iran to restore international trust.’’
Austria is an EU member, and Spindelegger’s comments appeared to mirror the European stance. The EU backs new sanctions if Iran continues to flout Security Council resolutions demanding it curb nuclear programs that could be used to make a bomb.
Spindelegger said he had consulted with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by telephone before the talks with his Iranian counterpart and had brought some issues to the table on the basis of that conversation.
Mottaki dismissed the demand that Tehran needed to compromise.
“It is time for the other side to take their steps to have our trust and build confidence for the Iranian side,’’ he said.