Iran Nuclear NewsRussia optimistic but wants changes in Iran text

Russia optimistic but wants changes in Iran text

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Reuters: Russia produced amendments on Wednesday to a draft European resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions but said none appeared to block any final agreement. By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia produced amendments on Wednesday to a draft European resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions but said none appeared to block any final agreement.

“We had the regular discussions we have on the final stages of the resolution,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a meeting of key negotiators from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and China.

He said Moscow objected to a travel ban on Iranian companies and individuals involved in Tehran’s nuclear program.

“The travel ban, we think it does not fit,” Churkin said.

In the main, the resolution bans imports and exports of materials and technology relating to uranium enrichment, reprocessing or heavy-water reactors as well as ballistic missile delivery systems for a bomb. Diplomats said Russia wanted some changes here also.

The proposals 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.

Iran says it is pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, while the West believes its research is a cover for bomb making.

An annex to the resolution singles out 11 agencies or businesses and 12 individuals involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs, candidates for a travel and financial freeze on assets abroad.

Churkin said he wanted to delete the list for the travel ban. He wants a Security Council sanctions committee to decide which individuals or organizations were eligible for an assets freeze, a process that could take months.

In contrast, diplomats said the United States wants to strengthen the sanctions committee and let it rule on any exceptions to the ban.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the six nations had a “really good meeting” and made “substantial progress. He hoped the negotiations would end this week and the council could vote before Christmas.

The European text says the council would suspend the sanctions if Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, decides Iran has suspended its uranium work and stopped efforts to produce a heavy-water nuclear energy reactor. He reports within 60 days.

Russia wants them lifted if Iran complies while the United States wants the council only to consider action.

A key concession to Russia was allowing the continued construction and supply of fuel to an $800 million light-water reactor it is building at Bushehr in southwest Iran. The original draft was ambiguous on fuel supplies.

On Tuesday, the meeting of the six nations was canceled after Russia walked out because the United States, minutes earlier, had asked Security Council members to consider the oppression of political dissidents in Belarus, a former Soviet republic.

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