AP: The world’s major powers made progress Thursday on possible new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment but some differences remain, U.N. diplomats said. Associated Press
By EDITH M. LEDERER
Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The world’s major powers made progress Thursday on possible new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment but some differences remain, U.N. diplomats said.
Foreign ministry political directors from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany held a two hour conference call to discuss what to include in a new U.N. Security Council resolution, the diplomats said.
“They had a good productive discussion during which they made progress in agreeing on the elements of a resolution,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “A few more issues remain for discussion, and the political directors agreed to convene another conference call on Saturday morning.”
The State Department said it expects that ambassadors from the six countries “could begin drafting the text of a resolution next week.”
Iran’s refusal to freeze all its enrichment-related activities prompted the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 23 to impose sanctions targeting its nuclear and missile programs and persons involved in them. The council gave the country 60 days to halt enrichment or face additional measures.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s report last week that Iran was expanding enrichment instead of suspending it set the stage for new U.N. sanctions to try to pressure Tehran to agree to a freeze ahead of negotiations on its nuclear program.
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at producing nuclear energy – not nuclear weapons – and it has adamantly refused to halt it.
The six countries, who have been the key players in trying to negotiate with Iran, all believe the initial sanctions have had a positive effect on Tehran, the U.N. diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said recently the new resolution would be looking at an “incremental” strengthening of sanctions.
Other U.N. diplomats have also used the word “incremental” – an indication that the U.S., Britain and France who might want tough new sanctions will settle for less to ensure that Russia and China, who have close ties to Iran, are on board.
That would ensure that the new resolution can be adopted unanimously – which all six countries appear to want so they can remain united in their stance on Iran.
Some diplomats said the new measure may include travel bans, expand the list of technology and materials countries are banned from making available to Iran, and create stiffer economic sanctions including a ban on export guarantees to Iran, among other options.