Reuters: European nations are expected to begin circulating proposed sanctions against Iran at the United Nations shortly, but Western diplomats said on Thursday only a second or third round of penalties was likely to force a halt in Tehran’s nuclear work. By Sophie Walker
LONDON (Reuters) – European nations are expected to begin circulating proposed sanctions against Iran at the United Nations shortly, but Western diplomats said on Thursday only a second or third round of penalties was likely to force a halt in Tehran’s nuclear work.
The draft text is expected to include curbs on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, which observers concede will probably not impinge on its uranium enrichment activities.
The crucial test will be whether the “P5+1” group made up of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France — and Germany can hold their resolve through a second and maybe third round of more biting resolutions in the coming weeks and months.
Emyr Jones Parry, Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., said the Europeans hoped to circulate their draft to the full 15-member council “early next week.”
Another European diplomat said discussions were still under way between Britain, France, Germany and the United States.
“We need to remain unified if this is to succeed,” a European diplomat told Reuters.
Iran has refused to stop uranium enrichment, which the West says it is doing to build atomic bombs but Tehran says is intended only to produce fuel for nuclear power plants.
International frustration came to a head earlier this month when negotiations between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani were finally abandoned.
Diplomats say the resolve since then to draft sanctions took Iran by surprise, and that Tehran had expected to be able to capitalize for longer on China and Russia’s reluctance to move beyond a purely diplomatic process.
Moscow and Beijing have expressed most caution throughout the negotiations. Russia has considerable trade links with Iran, while China is heavily dependent on its oil exports. Both countries say it is “absolutely unacceptable” to threaten force.
STAY THE COURSE
Several European diplomats said it will be vital that the process of expanding sanctions continues at a pace that allows Russia and China to stay the course.
The toughest debate will be whether to target Iran’s oil and gas resources for sanctions, although some observers say this may become easier with time. Iran is the world’s fourth largest crude oil exporter but its bargaining clout is diminishing as, for example, Saudi Arabia lines up extra oil reserves.
Iran will be hoping the United States loses patience with the slowness of proceedings, so that it can exploit any sign of disharmony among the six major powers.
The CIA says Iran is years away from obtaining a nuclear weapon and Washington has indicated it will accept a slower pace for the sanctions drive if it keeps Russia and China on board, diplomats say.
Larijani told European states on Wednesday they would be the losers if they joined the United States in pushing through a U.N. Security Council resolution.
“If the other side (the EU) yields to American pressure, it is natural that the situation will become radical. The world will not end but it will affect all our cooperation, in which I think the other side will lose more,” he told the semi-official Mehr News Agency.