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. Russia wants UN vote on Iran sanctions pushed back to at least Saturday
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 21 (AFP) Dec 22, 2006
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Thursday that he wanted a Security Council vote on nuclear-related sanctions on Iran postponed from Friday to at least Saturday.

"We believe there should be a postponement (of the vote) to Saturday," he added. "My understanding is that they (the European sponsors) are not going to proceed with the vote tomorrow."

Speaking after an informal meeting with colleagues from four other veto-wielding Security Council members -- Britain, China, France and the United States -- as well as from Germany on a sanctions draft resolution, Churkin told reporters that "two are three issues" still remained to be resolved, adding "these are difficult issues."

But a Western diplomat close to the talks said that the European sponsors of the text intended to stick to their plan for a Friday vote.

Churkin said he offered some thoughts to ensure that the draft that the sanctions target only prohibited sectors such as Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development and work on all heavy water related projects."

The draft drawn up by Britain, France and Germany slaps financial restrictions on persons and entities involved in proliferation-sensitive nuclear and missile programs.

To overcome Russian objections, the sponsors Wednesday watered down a contentious proposal for a travel ban on 12 officials directly linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The draft warns that if Tehran refuses to comply with demands that it halt sensitive nuclear fuel work, the 15-member council "shall adopt further appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter Seven" of the UN charter", a reference to economic sanctions only.

The United States and other Western countries suspect that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Tehran denies this.

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