Reuters: Western nations are pushing for a vote this week on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions, but Russia and China on Monday were far more cautious. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Western nations are pushing for a vote this week on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear ambitions, but Russia and China on Monday were far more cautious.
China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said there was a 50-50 chance of agreement soon, while Russia’s Vitaly Churkin objected to several provisions in the draft, including a travel ban and a list of Iranians subject to an assets freeze.
The resolution is 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 means, while Western governments believe its research is a cover for bomb-making.
Another draft of the resolution is expected to be circulated to the council on Tuesday in an effort to brief all 15 members.
“There are proposals on the table to try to cover all the outstanding points,” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said. He said he hoped everyone could agree on a text shortly and “on Wednesday we will see where we are.”
Ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China met on Monday, as they do nearly every day, to discuss the measure drafted by the Europeans and supported by the United States.
The resolution bans imports and exports of materials and technology relating to uranium enrichment, reprocessing and heavy-water reactors, as well as ballistic missile delivery systems.
Churkin reiterated his opposition to a travel embargo on 11 agencies or businesses and 12 people involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, who are also candidates for a freeze on assets. Although he agreed with a financial freeze, Churkin said he opposed the names on the list.
“We have not agreed with the list but we accept the premise and the concept of having some financial restrictions as far as prohibited activities are concerned,” Churkin told reporters.
But acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the “travel ban is a priority and an important element of this resolution and we will continue to push for it.”
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday about the resolution, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington.
“We are hopeful that we can get a vote in the very near future. It is time for a vote,” McCormack said.
But one senior U.S. official, when asked whether Rice had obtained agreement from Lavrov to vote on the resolution soon, told reporters: “There wasn’t a commitment to it.”
“They (the Russians) are at the point where they want to resolve the issue,” said the U.S. official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
“They want to try to work through any differences that might exist. We’ll see if they are actually committed to that,” the official added. “We really think that there should be a vote there and sometimes forcing the issue has a way of focusing people’s efforts.”
(With reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington)