Six major powers discuss Iran sanctions draft
NEW YORK, Oct 26 (AFP) Oct 27, 2006
Six major powers huddled behind closed doors here Thursday to review a draft UN Security Council resolution mandating sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work.
The talks at Britain's UN mission brought together ambassadors from the UN Security Council's five veto-wielding members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- as well as from Germany.
The focus was on the resolution crafted by Britain, France and Germany in consultations with Washington to penalize Tehran for failing to heed UN demands that it freeze its uranium enrichment activities, which the West fears could lead to Iran building a nuclear warhead.
"It was just a preliminary exchange of views," said US Ambassador John Bolton. "We will meet again probably on Monday and I think at that point we'll have a chance to talk about specifics."
The meeting was held just as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the proposed sanctions, arguing that they did not advance objectives agreed on earlier by the six major world powers.
These, he noted, include preventing proliferation of "sensitive technology" without the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, while also keeping open "all necessary channels of communication with Iran."
"A lot of work is still to be done, a lot of work," said Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin as he emerged from the meeting at the British mission.
The draft calls on UN member states to slap nuclear and ballistic missile related sanctions on Iran. It provides for a freeze on assets related to Iran's nuclear and missile programs as well as travel bans on nuclear and weapons scientists involved in those programs.
According to some diplomats, Washington had pressed for a tougher text, including a call for an end to Moscow's help building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station.
But British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry played down differences between Washington and the European trio, which has spearheaded inconclusive talks to persuade Iran to scale down its nuclear ambitions.
"The Americans and we are on board and we are very close to each other," Jones Parry said. "I wouldn't blow up the differences. We didn't screw down the final details but the essence of the resolution has been worked out and we are in close harmony."
In an apparent bid to mollify Moscow, the text drawn up by the three European powers specifically exempts Russian aid to Bushehr from the proposed sanctions.
A Western diplomat, however, said the exemption did not apply to the provision of nuclear fuel to Bushehr.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said his government understood Russian worries about the proposed sanctions.
"We know that the Russians have some concerns about the tactics and concerns about applying too much pressure too quickly on the Iranians. We certainly understand their point of view," he said.
"We expect that there are probably going to be changes along the way. That is just the nature of multilateral negotiations on these UN Security Council resolutions," he added.
The draft states that the sanctions "shall not apply if it is determined in advance and on a case by case basis that such supply, sale, transfer or provision of such items or assistance would clearly not contribute to the development of Iran's sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and ballistic programs, including where such items or assistance are for food, agricultural, medical or other humanitarian purposes."
But it calls on all states to bar "specialized teaching or training of Iranian nationals, within their territories or by their nationals, of disciplines which would contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs."All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.