Major UN powers weigh Iran sanctions
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 (AFP) Dec 11, 2006
Six major powers resumed talks here Monday on how to coerce Iran into halting its nuclear fuel work as Moscow welcomed changes to a European resolution mandating sanctions against Tehran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meanwhile warned that his country would respond to any action against its nuclear activities amid growing signs that the Security Council's five permanent members were edging closer to a deal on a revised draft drawn up by France, Britain and Germany.
Ambassadors of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- the council's five veto-wielding members -- plus Germany huddled informally Monday to review the text which had been discussed in Paris last week by more senior officials of the six.
France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told reporters that he would explain the amended draft to the council's 15 members at a formal meeting later Monday.
"I am going to present the text to the members of the council," he said. "I hope that we have good prospects. I have some signals but it is too early to say."
"We want a vote before the end of the year, (preferably) before Christmas," said a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He added that the sponsors were pushing for unanimous support from the council but also cautioned that "unanimity has a price (which) we are ready to pay up to a point."
The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, would mandate a ban on trade with Iran on goods related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and impose financial and travel restrictions on persons and entities involved.
Despite Russian objections, it includes a list of a dozen Iranian officials directly involved in their country's nuclear and ballistic programs who would be targeted for UN sanctions.
The list includes officials associated with the Natanz nuclear fuel processing facility and with the heavy-water reactor Iran is building in Arak as well as Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief General Yahya Rahim Safavi.
But at Moscow's insistence, the new draft drops all references to Iran's first nuclear power station, a one-billion-dollar facility which Russia is helping to build in Bushehr.
Earlier Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the latest European draft, noting that it "differs from the version worked out originally and contains changes based on Russia's proposals, which take into account the need to push Iran to sit at the negotiating table."
Lavrov stressed that the proposed resolution would have no effect on Russia's lucrative contract to build the Bushehr plant.
The changes were introduced by the European sponsors to win over Russia and China, which have close economic ties with Tehran and have consistently opposed what they describe as overly aggressive measures against Iran.
The United States has been pushing for tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
But the European draft does not include a US demand for an explicit characterization of the Iranian nuclear program as "a threat to international peace and security".
It asks the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to submit a report within 60 days on whether Iran has fully complied with the demands.
It says implementation of the sanctions would be suspended if Iran halts uranium enrichment but warns that failure to heed the UN demands would lead to "further appropriate measures", a reference to economic sanctions.
Tehran has consistently rejected UN demands that it halt uranium enrichment, a process which can provide fuel for nuclear reactors but, also in highly refined form, material for the core of a nuclear bomb.
The West claims Iran is running a secret nuclear military program parallel to its civilian one, an allegation strongly denied by Tehran which says its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful and aimed at producing electricity.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.