Iran Nuclear NewsRussia, China can opt out of Iran sanctions-diplomat

Russia, China can opt out of Iran sanctions-diplomat

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Reuters: Russia and China can opt out but will not block U.N. sanctions that may be imposed on Iran if it refuses to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme, a diplomat from the European Union told Reuters on Friday. By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN, June 2 (Reuters) – Russia and China can opt out but will not block U.N. sanctions that may be imposed on Iran if it refuses to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme, a diplomat from the European Union told Reuters on Friday.

Citing a deal agreed by Germany, France, Britain, the United States, China and Russia in Vienna on Thursday, the diplomat said that the six world powers had agreed on a “catalogue of sanctions” that could be used if Tehran remains defiant.

“There is something like a catalogue of sanctions and we can pick and choose from them. The agreement reached yesterday is also that Russia and China can abstain from any sanctions, but not say no,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“That means they can stay out of the sanctions, but not block them,” he added.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Friday that Russia and China, who have been most opposed to threatening Iran with sanctions, were now in full support of robust penalties for Tehran if it does not scale back its nuclear programme.

Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council, have strong trade ties with Iran.

“It’s clear that Russia and China would not want to participate in any economic sanctions. Their position has not changed,” the diplomat, who is familiar with the terms of the back-room negotiations in Vienna, added.

The diplomat said the types of sanctions in the “catalogue” were essentially the same ones included in a confidential EU paper obtained by Reuters last month.

These included political measures like visa bans on Iranian officials and diplomats and their families, freezing assets of Iranian officials and companies and various trade sanctions. They would be imposed incrementally, he said.

He said that no one was suggesting an embargo on oil exports from Iran, the world’s fourth biggest oil producer. However, he said the Americans had indicated they could favour an embargo of refined oil products into Iran.

There is little support for this in the EU, he said.

He added that the deadline for Iran to consider the offer of incentives to freeze its enrichment programme was understood to be the Group of Eight (G8) foreign ministers meeting at the end of this month.

Iran says it wants to enrich uranium only to the level required for use in atomic power reactors and has no interest in making very highly-enriched uranium, a key ingredient in bombs. However, few countries believe Iran’s nuclear ambitions are exclusively peaceful.

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