Iran Nuclear NewsIran sanctions talks at U.N. said to enter last...

Iran sanctions talks at U.N. said to enter last phase

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Reuters: Six major powers hope on Wednesday to put finishing touches on a draft text imposing sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used in a bomb or for peaceful ends. By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Six major powers hope on Wednesday to put finishing touches on a draft text imposing sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used in a bomb or for peaceful ends.

“There are no difficulties. There are just one or two issues to resolve,” Britain’s U.N ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, said after Tuesday’s negotiations with the United States, France, Russia and China — the other four permanent U.N. Security Council members — as well as Germany.

No date for a vote has been set but envoys hope for this weekend, although delays among the 15 Security Council nations are the rule rather than the exception.

The new sanctions are expected to include an embargo on Iranian conventional arms exports, a ban on new commitments for government loans to Tehran and an asset freeze on an expanded list of Iranian officials and companies associated with the country’s nuclear program, diplomats said.

Earlier proposals for a mandatory arms embargo and restrictions on government insurance and credits to firms doing business in Iran have been dropped, the envoys said.

China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said a final deal had not been reached over the list of Iranian officials and companies subject to sanctions, which include businesses controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Wang told reporters that “many of us, including China, are not sure about all those entities because the objective is to target the nuclear and (ballistic) missile activities.”

“But now with so many names, we don’t know whether they are linked to these activities or not,” Wang said.

Frustrated at being handed a fait accompli, the 10 rotating members of the Security Council have asked that a draft resolution be distributed on Wednesday afternoon “whether it is agreed or not,” according to South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council president.

“Now it is coming to a point where it marginalizes the rest of the members” if the big powers “continue to discuss this endlessly among themselves,” Kumalo said.

But Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said several council members had concerns that needed to be resolved, not just Moscow or Beijing. But he said his instructions from Moscow were “very positive.”

The new resolution is a follow-up to one adopted by the council on December 23 that imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of key Iranian individuals, groups and businesses.

The sanctions are to penalize Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment and would be suspended if Iran complied and returned to negotiations.

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.

Kumalo also said he spoke to Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, about an announced trip to New York by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to present his case to the Security Council.

“His understanding was that the Iranian government is determined to make this trip,” Kumalo said, adding Zarif was awaiting final instructions and the council would take up the visit after receiving a letter.

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