Iran Nuclear NewsSix powers intensify Iran sanctions talks: envoys

Six powers intensify Iran sanctions talks: envoys

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ImageReuters: The five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany are accelerating negotiations on a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, U.N. diplomats said on Thursday. By Louis Charbonneau

ImageUNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany are accelerating negotiations on a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, U.N. diplomats said on Thursday.

U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China had an inconclusive meeting earlier on Thursday, and the four Western envoys reconvened without Moscow and Beijing in the afternoon. Diplomats said the six would meet regularly in the coming days and weeks.

"The talks are intensifying," one Western diplomat told Reuters. Another said the six might begin discussing the issue on an almost daily basis as they work to prepare a draft sanctions resolution for the full 15-member Security Council.

German Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters ahead of the afternoon session that it was a "continuation of the exchange of views" that the major powers began in New York last week.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the six ambassadors on Wednesday, China's U.N. envoy Li Baodong said the six now have "a better understanding of each other's positions."

The envoys have been discussing a U.S. draft proposal, first circulated weeks ago, that provides for a fourth round of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to stop uranium enrichment. The West accuses Tehran of seeking to produce atomic arms but Tehran says it aims only to generate electricity.

The U.S. draft proposes new curbs on Iranian banking, a full arms embargo, tougher measures against Iranian shipping, moves against members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and firms they control and a ban on new investments in Iran's energy sector.

DILUTING THE DRAFT

Diplomats told Reuters this week that China's Li had indicated displeasure at the proposals affecting Iran's energy sector at a first meeting with his counterparts a week ago.

The Russians also have problems with proposals related to energy, shipping, arms and finance, Western diplomats said.

"We're right at the beginning of the discussion on a text here, and it should be no surprise that they're quite far apart," a Western diplomat said ahead of Wednesday's talks.

Moscow and Beijing, which have close trade ties to Iran, reluctantly supported three rounds of U.N. sanctions against Tehran in 2006, 2007 and 2008 but worked to dilute the measures before they were approved by the Security Council. Iran is the third-largest crude oil supplier to energy-hungry China.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last month that he wanted a new Iran sanctions resolution adopted "in weeks." He has raised the issue of Iran during bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Although the U.S. and European delegations would like a resolution adopted this month, diplomats say negotiations could continue at least until June as China and Russia are expected to push to water down the proposed punitive steps before handing a draft resolution to the council.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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