Iran General NewsSecurity council to discuss Iran sanctions

Security council to discuss Iran sanctions

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Guardian Unlimited: Permanent members of the UN security council will hold talks over what further sanctions to impose on Iran over its nuclear programme next week, a US official said today. Guardian Unlimited

Mark Oliver and agencies

Permanent members of the UN security council will hold talks over what further sanctions to impose on Iran over its nuclear programme next week, a US official said today.

Nicholas Burns, the US under secretary of state, said he would travel to London for discussions with security council representatives and Germany on Monday.

The talks – aimed at drafting a new UN resolution against Iran – come after the UN’s nuclear watchdog yesterday reported that Tehran had ignored security council demands to freeze its uranium enrichment.

Mr Burns said he could not say what the sanctions would be, but claimed Iran was “thumbing its nose” at the international community.

Some diplomats have said the new measures could include travel bans and an expansion of the technology and materials countries are banned from making available to Iran. Tougher economic sanctions could also be imposed.

News of the meeting came as diplomatic sources in Vienna said much of the intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by US spy agencies had turned out to be incorrect.

Iran insists it is developing domestic nuclear power, but the US and other countries believe it is trying to create a nuclear weapon.

It is not clear how smoothly Monday’s talks will progress – the US, Britain and France are likely to call for harsh sanctions, but Russia and China could resist such proposals.

Washington is concerned that Russia could use its veto against a new resolution, and Moscow has questioned how much effect more sanctions against Iran would have.

“We should not lose sight of the goal, and the goal is not to have a resolution or to impose sanctions,” Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said. “The goal is to accomplish a political outcome to this problem.”

The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice – who has refused to rule out the use of military force – yesterday said there was agreement that Iran should come back to the negotiating table.

In a speech in northern Iran today, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said his country would be a potential role model for others trying to develop advanced technology if it reached the “peaks of technology and science”.

“The Iranian nation has resisted all bullies and corrupt powers, and it will fully defend its all rights,” Mr Ahmadinejad added.

The security council issued three demands to Iran when it adopted its most recent resolution on the issue on December 23.

It ordered Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment, stop building heavy water facilities and fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yesterday, the IAEA told the council that Iran had not frozen its uranium enrichment, instead expanding its programme by setting up nearly 1,000 centrifuges.

A report said Tehran had also continued to build a heavy water reactor and related facilities. Heavy water reactors produce plutonium, which can be an alternative route to enriching uranium in the creation of a nuclear device.

Earlier this week, the BBC reported that US contingency plans for air strikes against Iran went beyond nuclear sites and included most of the country’s military infrastructure.

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