Reuters: New European proposals for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, aimed at meeting objections from Russia, would ease restrictions to be imposed on goods and technology Iran could buy and sell, diplomats said. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – New European proposals for U.N. sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, aimed at meeting objections from Russia, would ease restrictions to be imposed on goods and technology Iran could buy and sell, diplomats said.
But the envoys said on Thursday negotiations with Russia in telephone conferences among senior foreign ministry officials had not made much progress on a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution under discussion for months.
The United States and the European drafters of the document — Britain, France and Germany — want the 15-member Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs after it refused to suspend its enrichment activities, as demanded in an August 31 council resolution.
But Russia, backed by China, has chopped off close to half of the original European text.
The West believes Iran’s uranium enrichment work is a cover for bomb-making while Tehran says it is for generating electricity.
One diplomat familiar with the draft, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said only the most dangerous items that could be used to make a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile would be banned.
The original European draft demanded countries prevent the sale and supply of equipment, technology and financing contributing to all of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
It drew on an extensive international list of missile and nuclear components, drawn up by the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, that includes dual use items and related technologies.
One of Russia’s key objections was any mention in the text of the $800 million Bushehr light-water reactor it is building on Iran’s Gulf coast.
The original resolution exempted Bushehr and the new amendments do not mention it at all. But still in dispute is whether any country, including Russia, can deliver a fuel cycle for a plant like Bushehr, a senior council member said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, traveling in the Middle East, indicated her patience was running out.
“We have to do something and I am all for maintaining unity but I am also in favor of action. We will just have to look at what the options are,” Rice told reporters traveling with her to Jordan on Friday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to attend a Middle East democracy and development meeting along with Rice at the Dead Sea, but there were no immediate plans for a separate meeting on Iran. Rice has meetings scheduled with her German, Italian and British counterparts and Iran is expected to be raised as one of the key topics.
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told a news conference in Paris that the Europeans had drawn up a revised draft.
“The general philosophy of the text remains the same, that is to target the Iranian nuclear and ballistic program as well as the entities that run them and the individuals in charge of them,” Mattei said.
Another senior European diplomat said: “There is hard brainstorming on tactics going on. The challenge is to agree on how far we should go in an initial resolution and what arrows to keep in our quiver for a potential second one.”