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. Security Council weighs revised draft on Iran with no new sanctions
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 27 (AFP) Sep 27, 2008
The UN Security Council on Saturday weighed a revised draft resolution containing no new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear defiance and merely reaffirming existing ones.

At the request of Indonesia, the text, agreed by foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany Friday, was slightly amended to welcome "continuing efforts to resolve this matter through negotiation."

The draft would also call on Iran "to fully comply and without delay with its obligations (under relevant UN resolutions) and to meet the requirement of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) board of governors."

Indonesian Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, who abstained when the last Iran sanctions resolution was adopted last March, told reporters that he would ask the sponsors why this new text was necessary.

After closed-door consultations on the issue, he offered an amendment to the draft that "reaffirms the commitment of the dual-track approach and to an early negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear issue."

It was unclear whether the revised text would be voted upon by the 15-member council later in the day or next week as earlier announced.

The Security Council has already slapped three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which can be used to make the fissile material for a nuclear bomb.

The United States and its European allies have pushed for new sanctions against Tehran but have run into resistance from Russia and China.

Earlier Saturday, Iran said the latest draft was not constructive and displays disunity among world powers.

"This is not a constructive approach and will not resolve any of their problems," Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said of a new Security Council draft.

"What they need today is confidence building measures ... while such moves add to Iranian people's distrust," he was quoted as saying by the television's website.

Iran insists its nuclear program is strictly peaceful and solely aimed at electricity generation.

Friday, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed talk of new sanctions, saying "more discussions are necessary" with Tehran and "there's still room for diplomacy."

The six powers trying to clip Iran's nuclear ambitions have offered Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for a suspension of its uranium enrichment program.

The issue gained new urgency after the UN nuclear watchdog reported last week that Tehran continued to defy international pressure to cooperate with its investigation.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the six countries' agreement on the text as "an important sign of unity on Iran" and noted the draft did not rule out future sanctions.

Foreign ministers of the six powers had initially planned to gather here Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session to weigh new sanctions against Tehran.

But that meeting was called off after Moscow complained Washington sought to "punish" it, apparently over Georgia.

Moscow also cited US refusal to hold meetings this week of the Group of Eight industrial countries, composed of the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

"We do not see any fire that requires us to toss everything aside and meet to discuss Iran's nuclear program in the middle of a packed week at the United Nations General Assembly," the Russian foreign ministry said in a frosty statement.

The war with Georgia, a US ally, led to the worst chill in relations between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War and prompted US officials to say Russia could face isolation.

But the United States and Russia later appeared to climb down from the dispute, agreeing here to hold further ministerial-level meetings in the future on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

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