Reuters: Imposing economic sanctions on Iran without U.N. backing would be legitimate if other efforts failed to convince Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Monday. BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Imposing economic sanctions on Iran without U.N. backing would be legitimate if other efforts failed to convince Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Monday.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Volker said diplomacy may yet culminate in a U.N. consensus to apply sanctions, an option which at present splits the five members of the U.N. Security Council.
“If we don’t do that (reach that consensus), we will face questions about what we do,” Volker told a news briefing on a trip to Brussels to see European Union officials.
“I don’t believe there is a question of legitimacy for Europe, the United States or others to apply sanctions.”
Russia and China, which along with the United States, Britain and France are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, are keen to preserve energy trade with Iran and currently oppose moves towards punitive sanctions.
Volker said Washington wanted to build broad international consensus over Iran’s case, and hailed Saturday’s vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report Tehran to the Security Council as a sign of a convergence of views.
The U.N.’s top body has agreed that no Council action will be taken before IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei issues his next report on Iran in March.
U.S. senators called over the weekend for a “coalition of the economic willing” to impose travel bans and asset freezes on senior Iranian officials even if there was no Security Council agreement on how to deal with Tehran.
Washington tried and failed to win Security Council authorisation of military action against Iraq before invading in 2003.