Iran Nuclear NewsLibya may not back new Iran sanctions resolution

Libya may not back new Iran sanctions resolution

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Reuters: Libya’s U.N. ambassador said on Monday he doubted his country, which sits on the Security Council, could support in its current form a proposed sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program. By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Libya’s U.N. ambassador said on Monday he doubted his country, which sits on the Security Council, could support in its current form a proposed sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program.

“Really we cannot be supportive of further sanctions,” Giadalla Ettalhi told reporters as he went into into a U.N. Security Council meeting on unrelated issues.

Asked if Libya would vote “no” if the resolution went to a vote unchanged, Ettalhi said, “I think so.”

A Libyan contrary vote or abstention could not stop passage of the European-drafted resolution, which would be the 15-nation council’s third imposing sanctions on Iran.

But Western countries are keen for another unanimous 15-0 vote which they say would send a firmer signal to Tehran. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor with no votes against by any of the permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

Britain and France formally put the latest resolution before the council last week. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said he hopes for a vote on Friday.

The draft steps up travel and financial restrictions on named Iranian individuals and companies. Two previous sanctions resolutions were approved unanimously in December 2006 and March 2007.

The penalties are intended to force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, which Iran says is for power generation but Western countries fear means Tehran is seeking atomic weapons.

MIXED ASSESSMENT

Ettalhi said Libya’s definitive position would depend on council discussions to be held on Wednesday. He said his country would need to see how the final draft would look.

He said he thought “there should be some changes” following a new report on Iran last week by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The report gave a mixed assessment, saying Tehran had not responded adequately to Western intelligence allegations of work linked to making atomic bombs but had clarified issues related to other past nuclear work. Iran said the report had vindicated it but Western countries said the opposite.

In a letter to the Security Council, Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said the IAEA report meant his country’s nuclear program should no longer be on the council’s agenda because of the “closure of all outstanding issues”.

The matter had been imposed on the council “by certain countries out of mere political motivations and narrow national interests,” Khazaee said in the letter, dated Friday but made available on Monday.

Following the IAEA report, “the very pretexts and allegations, on the basis of which unlawful and unfair actions have been taken by the Security Council against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, have now proved to be baseless and are gone,” he said.

Western countries have made clear that while they might consider minor changes to the resolution, they will not further water down the sanctions, agreed by the permanent members.

Apart from Libya, Western countries have said they are also concerned about the position of nonpermanent council members South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam. (Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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