Iran Nuclear NewsU.N. envoys draw closer on Iran

U.N. envoys draw closer on Iran

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Reuters: Six major powers negotiating U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions said on Monday they were closer to a deal but needed more time to produce a Security Council resolution. By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Six major powers negotiating U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions said on Monday they were closer to a deal but needed more time to produce a Security Council resolution.

“The target is to get this done by the end of the week,” including a vote, said Alejandro Wolff, a U.S. ambassador after emerging from talks with ambassadors from Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

“Depending on the instructions we get back overnight from capitals whether we have a general agreement on an approach, this could move pretty quickly and be done tomorrow,” Wolff told reporters. But he cautioned that “somebody had a potential problem” on all of the provisions discussed on Monday.

A mandatory travel embargo against Iranian officials involved in the Tehran nuclear program was dropped and instead restraint was urged, diplomats said.

China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, confirmed that an arms embargo on Iran’s ability to export conventional weapons was agreed as well as a ban on government loans to Tehran. Imports of weapons to Iran would be permitted but countries would be asked to exercise vigilance.

Wang said more stringent financial sanctions, like export credit restrictions, might be excluded. Also uncertain are sanctions against specific people and groups, such as firms owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“The fundamentals have been worked out in all the areas but the devil is in the details so when we look at the specifics there may still be some problems to work out,” said Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

Negotiations have gone on for two weeks in New York and the six major powers hope to brief the full 15-member Security Council perhaps as early as Tuesday.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the six ambassadors would meet on Tuesday morning and hoped to “report progress” to the council.

The resolution would penalize Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used in bombs or for peaceful ends. The sanctions would be suspended if Iran complied and returned to negotiations.

“We want the Iranian government to understand that it has a choice to make and that it has to come back to negotiations,” said France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere.

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 that imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of key Iranian individuals, groups and businesses.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to address the Security Council but U.S. officials played down the significance of the offer. “I’m not sure what purpose that would serve,” said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.

Iranian state TV quoted a government spokesman as saying: “The president of Iran plans to speak in a possible meeting of the Security Council on Iran’s nuclear program to defend the right of the Iranian nation to use peaceful nuclear technology.”

Security Council members made clear that if Ahmadinejad wanted to address the body it was his right to do so. Under council rules if anyone objects, a minimum of nine members would have to agree and no country would have a veto.

“Any member has the right to come to the council,” said China’s Wang. “It will be fun if he comes, especially in connection with adoption of this resolution.”

But the United States would have to issue Ahmadinejad a visa and Wolff said no request had been received.

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