Iran Nuclear NewsWest circulates revised U.N. sanctions draft on Iran

West circulates revised U.N. sanctions draft on Iran

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Reuters: A new European resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions eases a list of goods Tehran cannot buy or sell and exempts Russian construction and fuelling of a reactor it is building in Iran. By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A new European resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions eases a list of goods Tehran cannot buy or sell and exempts Russian construction and fuelling of a reactor it is building in Iran.

Britain, France and Germany circulated the draft measure, obtained by Reuters, to U.N. Security Council members on Friday and are hoping for a vote in the 15-member body by Christmas.

It is uncertain whether Russia, which has veto power, will support the measure, vote “no” or abstain.

The proposed sanctions are a reaction to Iran’s failure to comply with an August 31 U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for bombs. The West believes Iran’s enrichment work is a cover for bomb-making. Tehran says it is for generating electricity.

The text of the latest draft still bars Iran from buying and selling key nuclear materials and technology, according to an international list from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and another one from the Missile Technology Control regime on ballistic missiles.

But it leaves dual-use items on the lists to the discretion of individual nations. The previous draft drawn up by Britain, France and Germany and backed by the United States, included all materials and items relating to nuclear technology and ballistic missiles.

A key difference is that the new resolution allows Russia to continue construction and supply fuel to an $800 million light-water reactor it is building at Bushehr in south-west Iran. The original draft was ambiguous on fuel supplies.

The new text does not mention Bushehr by name but targets the sanctions to “enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.”

FREEZE FINANCES

But the draft would still freeze finances abroad of individuals, groups and businesses involved in Iran’s nuclear program and impose a travel ban on them, items which Russia, backed by China, oppose.

The main fear is that a sanctions resolution might never be adopted, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity. If Russia and China do not support, the draft, the United States and Europeans hope they will abstain and let the resolution pass.

The sanctions would be lifted if Iran suspends enrichment activities and enters negotiations.

The draft threatens further measures if Iran does not comply but it is doubtful any will be imposed, considering the months of haggling over an initial resolution.

Senior foreign ministry officials from France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the United States met in Paris on Tuesday but did not agree on a text.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said any decision to impose sanctions on Iran would be illegal. “We (would) consider such a decision as a threat to our national interests and security,” Mottaki said this week in The Hague.

“The Security Council is a place to strengthen security for countries, not to threaten security,” he said.

As in the earlier draft, the resolution invokes Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes enforcement mandatory. But it points to Article 41, that pertains only to sanctions and not to any possible military enforcement.

“I think, at this point, the sense is that any differences …over the text of the resolution are starting to narrow,” U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

McCormack spoke after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Russian Security Council head Igor Ivanov, saying the two had some “very general” discussions on the matter.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington)

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