AFP: The White House said Thursday it was confident the UN Security Council would back toughened sanctions on Iran in the next week, despite the furor over Israel’s Gaza flotilla raid.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House said Thursday it was confident the UN Security Council would back toughened sanctions on Iran in the next week, despite the furor over Israel’s Gaza flotilla raid.
Some Middle East observers have warned that the outrage over the raid by America’s close ally could detract from diplomatic efforts by Washington to finally pass a sanctions resolution against Iran in the Council.
But President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs portrayed progress towards a resolution as robust and said a vote could be coming soon.
“We’ve seen sanctions introduced in the UN Security Council that we believe will be voted on next week and approved by the UN Security Council,” he said.
Asked whether the controversy over Gaza could delay the momentum, Gibbs answered: “I think the president and the team here remain confident that … within the next week, we’ll have a number that will pass that resolution.”
The United States had said on Wednesday that it hoped for a UN Security Council vote by June 21.
“The president (Barack Obama) has indicated he wants to see this accomplished by the end of spring,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, later clarifying that he meant a vote on the resolution by June 20 or June 21.
Last month, the United States introduced a draft resolution to impose tough new sanctions on Iran, saying it had the support of the four other permanent veto-wielding Security Council members: Russia, China, Britain and France.
The draft would expand an arms embargo and measures against Iran’s banking sector and ban Tehran from sensitive overseas activities like uranium mining and developing ballistic missiles.
Senior US officials said last week they were forging ahead with a resolution without Brazil and Turkey, two non-permanent Security Council members that brokered a nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran aimed at forestalling sanctions.
Western powers fear Iran’s atomic program is a cover for a nuclear weapons drive. Tehran denies this, saying it is aimed at peaceful energy use, which it insists it has the right to pursue.
Iran is already subject to three sets of United Nations sanctions for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, one of the crucial steps towards the production of nuclear energy for civil or military use.