Sponsors of new UN sanctions on Iran hope for vote next week
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 (AFP) Feb 22, 2008
Key European powers on Thursday formally introduced an amended package of new sanctions in the UN Security Council to pressure Iran into halting sensitive nuclear fuel work and hoped for a vote next week.
Britain's UN Ambassador John Sawers, one of the sponsors of the draft resolution along with France and Germany, told reporters that the text reflected comments made by some of the council's 10 non-permanent members.
"We are seeking further substantive comments from more delegations in the first half of next week so we can take this forward expeditiously," he said.
His French counterpart, Jean-Maurice Ripert, said the aim was to "try to secure adoption of the text if possible next week and if possible by consensus.
Sawers said the new draft builds on two sets of sanctions already adopted by the Council last March and in December 2006 for defying Security Council demands to stop uranium enrichment activities that the West fears could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
Tehran rejects the charges and insists its uranium enrichment program is solely geared to producing electricity.
The sponsors said they were confident that they had enough votes among the 10 non-permanent members to ensure passage, which requires nine votes and no veto from the five permanent members.
The core elements of the draft were approved by foreign ministers of the five veto-wielding council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany at a meeting last month.
The draft includes an outright travel ban by officials involved in Tehran's nuclear and missile programs and inspections of shipments to and from Iran if there are suspicions of prohibited goods.
It calls "upon states to exercise vigilance in entering into new commitments for public provided financial support for trade with Iran, including the granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance to their nationals involved in such trade."
And it urges vigilance over the activities of financial institutions in their territories with all banks domiciled in Iran, in particular Bank Melli and Bank Saderat and their branches and subsidiaries based abroad.
Ambassadors of several of the council's non-permanent members, including South Africa, Libya and Indonesia, said they wanted to await a report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before proceeding to a vote on the draft.
The report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, due out Friday and expected to be put to the IAEA's board of governors at a March 3-7 meeting, focuses on Iran's responses to IAEA queries regarding its suspect past nuclear activities.
A National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus view of 16 US spy agencies, released in December said Iran halted a nuclear weapons program in 2003.
But Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman dismissed the US intelligence report as "hurried, irresponsible and very, very unfortunate."
"The combination of that NIE report and the upcoming report by ElBaradei do not (augur) a very promising reality for people who are really interested in stopping Iran," he said.
"We know ElBaradei has been very forgiving and very understanding of Iran. He has tried to make things look better than they are."
Gillerman voiced hope that adoption of the council draft would be unanimous and that the mounting international diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran would have some effect.
"But if it does not, I hope that there is an international consensus that Iran should not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon," he added. "That really means that all options are on the table to stop it from attaining that weapon."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.