Iran Nuclear NewsEuropean powers revise Iran sanctions draft

European powers revise Iran sanctions draft

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Reuters: Britain, France and Germany have revised a sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program and diplomats said on Thursday they hoped the U.N. Security Council would vote on the draft next week. By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Britain, France and Germany have revised a sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program and diplomats said on Thursday they hoped the U.N. Security Council would vote on the draft next week.

The new resolution, obtained by Reuters, was virtually unchanged from an earlier draft about which several council members said they had serious concerns.

“The new draft will be introduced to the full council this afternoon and we hope it will be put to a vote by the end of next week,” a diplomat from a Security Council member state told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The draft resolution calls for asset freezes and mandatory travel bans for specific Iranian officials and vigilance on all banks in Iran.

It also expands the list of Iranian officials and companies targeted by the sanctions and repeats the council’s demand that Iran halt nuclear enrichment activity, which the West fears is aimed at producing uranium fuel for atomic weapons.

Diplomats said the text has the backing of all five permanent council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and co-drafter Germany, which is not on the council. These six countries have been spearheading the drive to persuade Iran to halt its enrichment program.

The changes were minor language adjustments and did not affect the substance of the penalties spelled out in the five-page text.

Diplomats from nonpermanent council member states like South Africa, Indonesia and Libya have said they want any resolution voted on by the 15-nation Security Council to reflect a report on Iran from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna expected to be released on Friday.

Vienna-based diplomats say IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to say in the report that he has made significant progress in resolving outstanding questions related to Iran’s past nuclear activities.

Western countries say the IAEA’s investigation of Iran’s atomic past is important but has little relevance to the future of Tehran’s atomic program, which they fear may one day be used to make nuclear weapons.

They say Iran’s refusal to comply with Security Council demands that it stop enriching uranium supports their suspicion that Tehran is seeking atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and enrichment a sovereign right.

The South Africans and other members of the Non-Aligned Movement say the IAEA’s investigation is relevant and insisted that the council hold the vote until it has the IAEA report.

South Africa, Indonesia and Libya have also said they had serious reservations about the earlier draft and it was unclear if the new draft would satisfy their objections.

South Africa had objected to a section urging states to inspect suspicious cargo to and from Iran transported by the firms Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line. This section is unchanged from the earlier draft. (Editing by Jackie Frank)

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