Reuters: In an effort to pressure Iran into suspending uranium enrichment, six key U.N. ambassadors began a week of negotiations on possible new sanctions but agreement was still elusive. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – In an effort to pressure Iran into suspending uranium enrichment, six key U.N. ambassadors began a week of negotiations on possible new sanctions but agreement was still elusive.
“I think the basic idea is to expand and strengthen the sanctions regime but how far we will go, I think there are some differences among member states,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said after the opening round on Monday.
He said he expected to join envoys from the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Germany for further talks on Tuesday, and thereafter in briefings to the full 15-member U.N. Security Council.
The negotiations, at Britain’s mission to the United Nations, moved to New York after senior foreign ministry officials consulted three times by telephone over the past week. On Saturday, they were unable to settle all their differences.
Both Wang and Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the new resolution would probably give Iran 60 days to comply with demands that it halt its nuclear enrichment work, which can provide fuel for power plants or for bombs.
The United States and leading European countries suspect Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic program. Tehran denies the charge and says its program is for generating electricity only.
The new resolution is a follow-up to one adopted by the Security Council on December 23, which imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of key Iranians after Tehran refused to halt enrichment work.
According to Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Thomas Matussek, the discussions evolved around a mandatory travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the nuclear program, an expansion of the list of banned nuclear material and technology Iran may import and export. Also under consideration is enlarging the list of Iranian officials who assets can be frozen abroad.
But envoys said proposals for a total arms embargo would be dropped because of Russian objections, as would a ban on visas for students studying nuclear technology abroad.
“The slogan we use for this one (resolution) is ‘swift and modest,”‘ Matussek said.
Negotiators have also discussed restricting export credits provided by governments to companies doing business in Iran. Washington has pushed for Europe to end such credits.
But Matussek said, “We do not want to hurt our small and medium-sized enterprises … so we have to calibrate in a way that we can get the message across.”
Shortly before negotiations began, UnderSecretary of State Nicholas Burns paid a courtesy call on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“We hope those deliberations can be conducted in the shortest possible time so that the Iranian government will know that it is really quite isolated on this issue.”