( Latwp) - The U.N. Security Council on Thursday began considering new sanctions against Iran that would ban the country's arms exports and expand a list of people and organizations whose assets are to be frozen because of their ties to Iran's nuclear activities.
The draft resolution also calls on governments and financial institutions not to offer Iran financial assistance except for humanitarian and developmental purposes, though it did not include restrictions on export credits as originally envisioned.
The penalties go beyond the sanctions imposed by the council last December to compel Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. They target officials and companies affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which oversees strategic Iranian interests, including oil, gas and its missile program. Russia, however, objected to singling out the group, saying it has little to do with the nuclear program and appears to politicize the resolution.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, at the U.N. on a previously scheduled visit, said that the sanctions package contained both carrots and sticks.
``These measures are gradual and reversible. That means that if in 60 days we have no answer, we will have more sanctions,'' he said.
But if Iran chooses to halt its program and return to negotiations, he added, it could receive economic and technical help to build its civilian nuclear energy program.
``This approach is constructive, positive, and the only way to get results,'' he said.
Iran has rejected a European incentive package because it would not allow it to keep full control of its nuclear program.
Bowing to objections from Russia and China, a travel ban on designated individuals was dropped from the draft, which instead calls for governments to notify a U.N. sanctions committee when those people enter a country.
The text also relaxed a ban on conventional arms sales to Iran and instead asked for nations to ``exercise vigilance and restraint'' in transferring heavy arms to Iran. Material related to Iran's nuclear and missile programs were banned in the December resolution.
The Security Council's five permanent members -- the U.S., United Kingdom, China, France and Russia -- along with Germany, hammered out the text, then presented it Thursday to the council's other 10 countries. The 10 said they want ample time to consider the text and make changes if necessary, though the key members are hoping for a vote before next Wednesday.
In central Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly told a rally that ``issuing such torn pieces of paper . . . will not have an impact on (the) Iranian nation's will,'' according to the official news agency, IRNA.
Ahmadinejad, along with the vice president and foreign minister, wants to come to the Security Council for the vote next week, and Iran has applied to the U.S. State Department for a visa, diplomats said.
Although the earlier sanctions have had an impact on Iran's economy and trade, they have not persuaded Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment program and insists that it has the right to continue what it says is a peaceful nuclear energy program.