Big powers circulate draft Iran sanctions

Iran Materials 19 May 2010 03:57 (UTC +04:00)
A U.N. Security Council draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, calls for expanding punitive measures against Iran, its banking and other industries for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear activities, Reuters reported.
Big powers circulate draft Iran sanctions

A U.N. Security Council draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, calls for expanding punitive measures against Iran, its banking and other industries for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear activities.

The 10-page draft resolution, which was agreed to by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, also calls for the establishment of an international inspection regime for vessels suspected of containing cargo related to Iran's nuclear or missile programs.

The decision to circulate the resolution to the 15-nation Security Council was a tacit rebuff to a deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey and made public on Monday in which Iran agreed to send some uranium abroad. U.S. officials regard that deal as a maneuver by Iran to delay more U.N. sanctions.

Brazil's U.N. ambassador made clear her country was unhappy that the sanctions draft was introduced at a council meeting.

"Brazil is not engaging in any discussion on a draft at this point because we feel that there is a new situation," Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti told reporters outside the Security Council chamber. "There was an agreement yesterday which is a very important one."

The draft "calls upon states to take appropriate measures that prohibit" the opening of new Iranian bank branches or offices abroad if there is reason to suspect they might be aiding Iran's nuclear or missile programs.

It also calls on states "to exercise vigilance over transactions involving Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran" to ensure that those transactions do not aid Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

It also urges countries to be wary of dealing with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and says some members and companies controlled by it will be added to existing lists of individuals and firms facing asset freezes and travel bans.

Another measure in the draft is a proposed ban on Iranian investment in sensitive nuclear activities abroad.


The draft resolution, Western diplomats say, was the result of a series of compromises between the United States and its three European allies, which had pushed for tough sanctions against Tehran, and Russia and China, which worked hard to dilute the proposed measures outlined in earlier drafts.

The draft, which would impose a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran, also calls for an expansion of an already existing arms embargo against Iran to include some further categories of heavy weapons.

Originally the United States and its European allies had hoped to impose a total arms embargo against Tehran, but diplomats said Russia and China had opposed this. The Western powers had also hoped to blacklist the Iranian central bank but this was rejected months ago, the envoys said.

Despite the dilutions that came out of months of negotiations, a senior U.S. official said the new resolution would make it more costly for Iran to continue to reject U.N. demands that it halt its uranium enrichment program.

"This draft represents a strong and broad-based set of sanctions and, if adopted, would send a very clear message to Tehran," the official said.

Several Western diplomats from key Security Council member states said they hope the 15-nation council will vote on the resolution early next month. The 10 non-permanent council members were expected to receive the draft at a meeting currently underway at U.N. headquarters, diplomats said.

The draft will likely be revised in the coming weeks.

Iran rejects Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at developing weapons. It says its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.

The nuclear fuel deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey had revived the idea of a nuclear fuel swap devised by the United Nations last year with the aim of keeping Tehran's nuclear activities in check.

But Tehran made clear it did not intend to suspend domestic uranium enrichment that Western governments have said appears aimed at giving it the means to make nuclear weapons.

The draft resolution expressed "serious concern" about Iran's plans to press ahead with uranium enrichment in defiance of five Security Council resolutions demanding a halt to enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities.

Western nations have reacted skeptically to the fuel deal, although China -- the major power most reluctant to impose more sanctions on Iran -- welcomed it and urged talks with Tehran.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said he was encouraged by the fuel swap deal. His reaction suggested that world powers discussing possible new U.N. sanctions against Iran may part ways on how much weight to give Iran's offer.

"China ... expresses its welcome and appreciation for the diplomatic efforts all parties have made to positively seek an appropriate solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," Yang said, according to the Foreign Ministry website (www.fmprc.gov.cn).

Council members Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon have made clear they would have trouble supporting sanctions against Iran. Washington and its European allies say they will work hard to convince Turkey and Brazil to back the resolution.

Lebanon, diplomats say, will likely abstain from a vote on the resolution because the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah is in the government.