Reuters: U.N. Security Council member South Africa on Tuesday expressed reservations about the timing of a draft sanctions resolution against Iran for its nuclear program as well as some of its provisions. By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 5 (Reuters) – U.N. Security Council member South Africa on Tuesday expressed reservations about the timing of a draft sanctions resolution against Iran for its nuclear program as well as some of its provisions.
Last month the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — Britain, the United States, France, Russia and China — along with Germany circulated a proposal for a third sanctions resolution against Iran calling for mandatory travel bans, asset freezes and vigilance on all banks in Iran. The text was obtained by Reuters.
The United States and France want the draft resolution to be put to a vote as soon as possible. But South Africa, a key member of the Non-Aligned Movement, wants to see an International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran due later this month before voting.
“We (the council) said we support the IAEA and its work plan,” said Dumisani Kumalo, South African ambassador to the United Nations. “So why can’t we wait for it to come?”
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has also urged the council to wait for the IAEA report.
Spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, Richard Grenell, said the second sanctions resolution approved in March 2007 called for further action if Tehran ignored the council’s demands that it freeze its nuclear program.
“We think we’ve waited long enough,” Grenell said.
Western countries suspect that Iran is building the capability to produce nuclear weapons and demand that it stop enriching uranium. Tehran says its program is strictly for peaceful electricity production and refuses to halt it.
Last year Iran agreed on a work plan with the Vienna-based IAEA that was intended to clear up all outstanding questions about Tehran’s past nuclear activities.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday he was making progress in wrapping up his investigation. The report is expected the week after next, diplomats in Vienna say.
RUSSIA BACKS U.S. AND FRANCE
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, made it clear Moscow — like Washington and Paris — saw no point in the 15-nation council waiting for the IAEA report.
Council diplomats predict the council will approve the new sanctions, which would expand the list of Iranian individuals and firms facing travel restrictions and asset freezes and make previous travel restrictions mandatory.
But a senior Western diplomat said it might be difficult to get unanimous approval this time. Libya, which abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003, is uncomfortable with the idea of new sanctions against Iran.
Kumalo said South Africa had a problem with a paragraph in the draft urging states to inspect suspicious air and sea cargo to and from Iran transported by the firms, Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line.
“We just want to be sure that that is done right if it’s ever done, because it’s an obligation (for us),” he said.
“We wouldn’t want confrontation on our shores. And what happens if you search the wrong boat? … It may be an Iranian boat but it may be an innocent one. They’ll sue us.” (Editing by Alan Elsner)