Iran Nuclear NewsKey UN powers circulate Iran sanctions draft

Key UN powers circulate Iran sanctions draft

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AFP: Key Western UN powers have presented China and Russia with a draft resolution mandating Security Council sanctions against Iran for failing to heed demands that it halt sensitive nuclear fuel work, diplomats said Wednesday. by Gerard Aziakou

UNITED NATIONS , Oct 25, 2006 (AFP) – Key Western UN powers have presented China and Russia with a draft resolution mandating Security Council sanctions against Iran for failing to heed demands that it halt sensitive nuclear fuel work, diplomats said Wednesday.

The text, crafted by envoys of Britain, France and Germany in consultations with the United States, was presented to the Russian and the Chinese ambassadors late Tuesday, they added.

According to excerpts of the draft, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, the Security Council would invoke Article 41 of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter which calls for sanctions not involving the use of force.

The text proposes that the council “take necessary measures to prevent the supply, sale or transfer directly or indirectly from their territories or by their nationals … of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

The diplomats said the council’s five veto-wielding members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany might meet Thursday to review the draft.

Western powers fear Iran’s uranium enrichment could be diverted to make nuclear weapons, but the Islamic republic insists its nuclear program is solely aimed at generating electricity.

Diplomats cited differences of view between Washington and its European allies during consultations over whether the draft should call for a suspension of Russian assistance to Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power station in Iran.

The draft put forward by Britain, France and Germany, which have been spearheading inconclusive negotiations to persuade Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment, makes no mention of Bushehr, diplomats close to the discussions said.

China and Russia, which have significant economic interests in Iran, are reluctant to impose tough measures against Tehran and a Western diplomat made it clear that Moscow was certain to oppose any call for a suspension of its aid to the Bushehr project.

Monday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Security Council deliberations on the sanctions against Iran were likely to last for several weeks.

“I would expect that this is going to be one of the top items on the Security Council calendar for the next several weeks,” he noted.

Russia has also indicated that agreement on an acceptable text were likely to take some time.

Wednesday an official from the Russian company heading the Bushehr project said it had been delayed for technical reasons.

“It is clear that the reasons for the delay are technical in nature,” said Sergei Shmatko, who heads the state-run company Atomstroiexport, in a report by the Interfax news agency.

Last month, Russia and Iran officially agreed on a 12-month deadline for completing the controversial project, despite earlier pressure from Tehran that the station be completed in half that time.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has meanwhile repeatedly stated that Iran has no plan to halt its uranium enrichment and has noted that the Islamic republic is not far from doing so on a larger scale.

And Iran on Wednesday confirmed it has installed new equipment to step up uranium enrichment work despite the threat of UN sanctions.

An official told the agency Iran has recently installed a second cascade of centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility and would start putting gas in the equipment this week to make enriched uranium.

Iran has been conducting a small-scale research enrichment program at its plant in Natanz, in the centre of the country, where it has so far been feeding the UF6 gas into a single 164-centrifuge cascade.

Iran has plans to install 3,000 centrifuges by March 2007 and wants to develop advanced P2 centrifuges capable of making highly-enriched uranium more efficiently than the P1 technology currently in use.

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