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European Powers Finalizing Iran Sanctions Draft, Tehran Defiant

A Western diplomat said he did not anticipate a draft to be submitted to the full council before next week.
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Oct 19, 2006
Three European powers put finishing touches Thursday on a draft resolution on UN Security Council sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment as Tehran vowed not to back down. The draft is being crafted by envoys from France, Britain and Germany -- the three countries that have been spearheading failed talks to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions -- in consultation with the United States.

The envoys would not discuss the details of the gradual sanctions being considered.

But officials in Washington said a first set of punitive measures was likely to focus on banning the supply of material and funding for Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Other steps could include asset freezes and travel bans on nuclear and weapons scientists.

"I expect that Iran will be coming (before the council) fairly soon," Japan's UN envoy Kenzo Oshima, the president of the 15-member council for October, told reporters Thursday. "It depends on the progress of consultations among key interested countries. But nothing has been discussed yet."

"It's not an easy resolution. It's very technical," France's UN envoy Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said Thursday.

He said he hoped a draft could be discussed by envoys of the council's five permanent members -- the so-called P5: Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany Friday.

A Western diplomat said he did not anticipate a draft to be submitted to the full council before next week.

"We will have a few days between the P5+1 meeting and the consultations (by the full council) so the Russians and Chinese have time to digest the draft," he added.

Last week senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- finalized a preliminary list of possible sanctions and directed their UN envoys to begin drawing up a sanctions draft.

Their decision came after the European Union concluded after several rounds of fruitless talks with Iran that the issue must be handed back to the Security Council.

But while the six powers agreed on the need for sanctions against Tehran, Russia and China, which both have important economic ties to Iran and traditionally reluctant to use sanctions as a diplomatic tool, are likely to oppose biting sanctions.

Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin indicated earlier this week that an accord on a draft would take some time.

The West suspects that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. But Iran insists its program is for peaceful energy purposes only and argues it has every right to enrich uranium under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran ignored an August 31 deadline set by the Security Council to freeze uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear reactor fuel but also for bomb-making.

Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated in a speech in Islamshahr, southwest of Tehran, that his country would not back down.

"The enrichment of uranium and having nuclear fuel are among the main demands of Iranian nation," he added in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Wednesday, Iran also warned the Security Council against imposing sanctions saying such a move would "radicalise" the situation and affect its cooperation with the UN atomic agency.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said US-led efforts to put a draft resolution to the Security Council would make ending the standoff even harder and even have consequences for the wider Middle East region.

Last June the P5 and Germany drew up a list of 15 possible punitive measures against Iran as part of a "carrots and sticks" package that also included economic and security incentives if Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment.

earlier related report
World must draw 'red line' on Iran's nuclear programme: Israel
Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, Oct 19 (AFP) Oct 19 - The international community must draw a "red line" beyond which Iran must not be allowed to develop its nuclear programme, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday. "There is a limited range for compromises with Iran," Olmert said. "I am not against a reasonable agreement with Iran but a red line should be drawn beyond which it is not allowed to proceed."

Olmert spoke to reporters on board his plane following a three-day visit to Moscow during which he discussed with President Vladimir Putin the Islamic state's nuclear programme.e

Israel says the programme is aimed at developing an atomic bomb but Iran claims it is meant for peaceful use.

Olmert nevertheless hinted that Iran could be allowed to develop limited nuclear technology to be used for civilian purposes under international supervision.

"Iran should not be allowed to reach nuclear technology beyond a limited number of cascades" which would allow the production of energy but not weapons-grade nuclear material, he said.

Israel, the United States and the European Union have all called for sanctions against Iran following its refusal to comply with international demands to halt its nuclear activity. Russia and China have nevertheless rejected these calls.

The premier went on to say that following his meetings in Moscow he "has a strong feeling that Russia certainly objects to a nuclear Iran," and that he believed "that the differences between Israel and Russia were not on the level of principle but on the tactical level.

"The Russians say and do things that are not all revealed to the eye," he added. "The Russians are not at a completely different position over the Iranian issue than the US."

US denounces Iranian president's new jab at Israel
The United States on Thursday denounced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "unfortunate" new verbal attacks against Israel. "In terms of president Ahmadinejad's comments related to Israel, I think it just continues an unfortunate pattern of remarks that I think have generally been rejected by most other members of the international community," US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and questioned the Holocaust, blasted his arch-enemy again Thursday as a "fraudulent and illegitimate" regime that "cannot survive."

Ahmadinejad, in a speech southwest of Tehran, also insisted that Iran will not back down "an inch" over its nuclear program despite the growing threat of sanctions.

The United States is pressing for UN Security Council sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear reactor fuel but also for bomb-making.

The West suspects that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. But Iran insists its program is for peaceful energy purposes only and argues it has every right to enrich uranium under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Casey said discussions between the UN envoys of the Security Council's five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- on drafting a UN sanctions resolution were "going well."

"We're making progress on them and look forward to being able to have a resolution for people to consider in the near future," he said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Seoul (AFP) Oct 19, 2006
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