Iran Nuclear NewsAgreement on proposal for new Iran sanctions

Agreement on proposal for new Iran sanctions

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New York Times: The world’s leading powers agreed Tuesday on a new set of sanctions against Iran to present as a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council, but they did not announce details of the sanctions, which are designed to induce Tehran to give up its nuclear program. The New York Times

By NICHOLAS KULISH
Published: January 23, 2008

BERLIN — The world’s leading powers agreed Tuesday on a new set of sanctions against Iran to present as a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council, but they did not announce details of the sanctions, which are designed to induce Tehran to give up its nuclear program.

The foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the Security Council — China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States — met in the German capital at the invitation of the country’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss new ways to crack down on Iran for uranium enrichment that Western governments say could eventually be used in a restarted weapons program.

“We are agreed on the content of the next Security Council resolution,” Mr. Steinmeier said at a news conference after the two-hour meeting, without going into details. Mr. Steinmeier was the only representative who spoke, and he took no questions.

Without specifics on the nature of the proposed sanctions, it remains unclear whether they would be much more extensive than previous sanctions or are more of a symbolic gesture designed to demonstrate solidarity among the great powers. Russia and China, in particular, have resisted calls for harsher sanctions.

The Security Council has twice before voted to impose sanctions against Tehran to stop the country from enriching uranium, first in December 2006 and again in March 2007. But the release last December of a declassified United States intelligence report saying that Iran had put its nuclear weapon program on hold in 2003 seemed to blunt the Bush administration’s arguments that Iran presented a threat.

Iranian officials seized on the American National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, as evidence that their nuclear ambitions were civilian rather than military. Bush administration officials countered that Iran had deceived the world about a weapons program that could easily be started up again, and that Tehran was required to stop enriching uranium in order to comply with the Security Council resolutions.

“This is a swift reminder to the Iranians that they are not in compliance,” a senior American official said after the announcement on Tuesday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was happy with the result, which would “take some of the previous sanction measures and strengthen them” and would also add “new elements.”

The official specifically referred to the freezing of assets and travel bans, but said he could not elaborate as they were not releasing the text of the agreement until it could be shared with the 10 remaining, non-permanent members of the Security Council.

Each of the five permanent members of the council exercises veto power over resolutions, but Tuesday’s agreement seemed to preclude any veto of a sanction resolution.

Despite the results of the intelligence estimate, the United States has been trying to keep the pressure on Iran. President Bush traveled to the Middle East earlier this month to try to build a united Arab front against Iran.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, met with Iranian officials earlier this month for talks Mr. ElBaradei described as “frank and friendly.” Iran has defied demands from the international community to cease uranium enrichment.

A European diplomat described the proposal agreed to Tuesday as “very technical” and that it “further developed the existing lines” of sanctions.

The American official said that the parties had not come to the meeting agreed on the draft resolution, but instead had four technical issues that the foreign ministers had to work through first. He said that the “most active” in the debate were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov.

Ms. Rice did not speak after the meeting, but in a briefing earlier in the day said, “I don’t think it’s any secret that we and the Russians and perhaps the Chinese don’t have precisely the same view of timing on these resolutions.”

The fundamental issue remained, according to Ms. Rice, “Iran’s unwillingness to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing” of uranium.

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