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U.S. Backs Off on Call for Iran Arms Embargo

September 27, 1987|Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS — The United States on Friday backed away from a call for an arms embargo against Iran and instead reaffirmed its willingness to work with the U.N. Security Council to achieve a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war.

"We're not seeking sanctions, we're seeking that this (U.N. peace) resolution be accepted and that a cease-fire come about," U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz said after a meeting with foreign ministers of the four other permanent members of the Security Council. "We are talking about means to that end."

Many diplomats have said that despite vigorous efforts in the last week, the United States clearly had failed to win broad support for its call for an immediate arms embargo against Iran as the most effective and judicious way of bringing about a cease-fire in the 7-year-old war.

Copter Attack Ignored

Several diplomats said that Monday's U.S. helicopter attack on an Iranian vessel didn't persuade many countries to seek immediate sanctions against Tehran.

Shultz said the arms embargo and other sanctions haven't been abandoned.

"On the contrary, the distinct possibility, the probability that will happen unless there is a satisfactory response (by Iran), is there," he said.

"Some combination of determination and patience is called for, and the degree of patience is limited," he told reporters at the U.S. mission.

He expressed skepticism that Iran would fully accept United Nations Security Council Resolution 598, passed July 20, which demands an immediate cease-fire and mutual troop withdrawal to recognized borders. It also calls for a prisoner exchange and establishment of an impartial panel to investigate and identify the country that started the war.

'Iraqis Have Accepted'

"The Iraqis have basically accepted this resolution," Shultz said. "The Iranians haven't, although they have said some positive things."

Iran has demanded that Iraq be branded the aggressor before peace can be established.

The five permanent Security Council members--the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France and Great Britain--met in a rare working luncheon and issued a statement reaffirming their support for Resolution 598.

Britain also had called for an arms embargo, after an Iranian attack on one of its tankers, but later said that more time was needed before deciding how to enforce the Security Council resolution. The Soviet Union, France and China have withheld support for a swift embargo.

"The goal of the permanent members and of the Security Council as a whole is to bring an end to the Iran-Iraq conflict," said the statement issued by the council and read by U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. "The permanent members regard implementation of resolution 598 as the sole basis for a comprehensive, just, honorable and durable settlement of the conflict."

The five said they would give full support to the secretary general's efforts to implement the resolution and expressed "determination to continue to work with each other within the Security Council."

"They will, therefore, continue to work on ways and means to secure full and rapid implementation of Resolution 598 and on further steps to ensure compliance with that resolution," the statement said.

After the meeting, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze told reporters that the five permanent members want the resolution to be implemented as adopted, and not renegotiated. He said the meeting was productive and conducted in a businesslike manner.

Shultz said, "There are variations in views held by different parties about what the Iranian intentions may be. I'm personally more skeptical than some of the others. I would love to be proven wrong and have Iran accept this resolution and think about a cease-fire."

"One of the things that will help bring that about is the authority that this resolution contains--that there is an end to the road," he said in an apparent reference to sanctions.

Perez de Cuellar said he briefed the entire 15-member council on the latest positions of Iran and Iraq, and said Iran had presented clarifications, but did not disclose them.

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