Reuters: Iran’s airlines and ships could be denied landing and transit rights and two more of its banks could have their assets frozen under informal proposals by Britain for a new U.N. sanctions resolution. By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran’s airlines and ships could be denied landing and transit rights and two more of its banks could have their assets frozen under informal proposals by Britain for a new U.N. sanctions resolution.
The confidential draft, obtained by Reuters on Friday, is aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Iran for defying U.N. Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment, which yields both fuel for power plants and weapons.
Iran says its goal is the peaceful generation of electricity. The West fears the enrichment is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.
U.S. and European officials insisted the proposals under discussion were not intended to affect the oil markets, where Iran is a major producer and exporter.
Britain has also suggested banning new arms contracts with Iran, international travel for senior Iranian security officials and continued Russian work on Iran’s nuclear power reactor at Bushehr, according to the June 14 draft.
Britain, the United States and other major powers have begun preliminary discussions about a third U.N. resolution tightening sanctions on Iran but formal negotiations are awaiting the conclusion of talks on Saturday between Iran and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.
Initial proposals almost always reflect tough positions that are often rewritten in the Security Council negotiating process.
One British proposal would have states “deny permission to take off from, land in or overfly their territories, or berth in or secure passage through their territorial waters, of all aircraft or vessels owned or controlled by Iranian airlines or shipping companies.”
All U.N. member nations are bound to enforce Security Council resolutions.
A second proposal would target aircraft and vessels — including those operated by Iran Air Cargo and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line — that traffic in goods embargoed under two previous U.N. resolutions, which banned trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missile.
FREEZING ASSETS, TRAVEL BAN
Although the first proposal seemed likely to affect oil markets as Iran transports much of its oil in its own ships, a senior U.S. official said that was not the U.S. intent.
“That’s not something that we’ve been considering,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Instead, the provision under discussion would either require, authorize or encourage states to inspect Iranian ships and planes that transit their territories, he said.
The British document also suggests freezing assets of financial institutions, like Bank Melli — Iran’s national bank — and Bank Saderat, which like Iran’s Bank Sepah, Washington previously severed from access to the U.S. financial system.
A U.N. sanctions resolution in March froze the financial assets of Bank Sepah, which Washington has accused of supporting Iran’s suspected weapons of mass destruction program.
Other British proposals include a mandatory travel ban on senior officials from Iran’s Defence Ministry, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Supreme National Security Council and extending travel restrictions on political figures and their families.
An asset freeze on military businesses owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard would be extended to non-military entities such as Khatem-ol Anbiya Construction Organization.
U.S. and European officials refused to discuss details of the British draft, but State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “Iran’s failure to cooperate with the international system” was forcing talk of new sanctions.