AFP: The United States, following crunch talks in London, geared up for a week of tough negotiations with other world powers over a draft UN resolution to impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. LONDON, Oct 7, 2006 (AFP) – The United States, following crunch talks in London, geared up for a week of tough negotiations with other world powers over a draft UN resolution to impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
Senior US official Nicholas Burns said the five permanent UN Security Council members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France — plus Germany would start drafting next week a sanctions resolution.
However, he conceded that the tough part would be deciding the extent of punitive measures following the talks here that involved US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her five counterparts. Burns was also present.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, speaking on behalf of the six following the meeting she chaired in London, said Friday that the issue of sanctions was now back on the front burner.
“We’re deeply disappointed that … Iran is not prepared to suspend its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities as required by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) board and made mandatory in Security Council resolution 1696,” Beckett said.
“Accordingly we will now consult on measures under article 41 of chapter 7 of the UN charter as envisaged in that resolution,” she added.
Article 41 allows the Security Council to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on member nations to enforce compliance with its resolutions.
Burns, the US under secretary of state and pointman on Iran, said that work on a new resolution would probably start on Tuesday or Wednesday with a video conference involving his five counterparts.
The discussions would be pursued immediately afterward among the ambassadors at the United Nations of the six powers, he added.
“I am quite confident that we are now heading towards a sanctions resolution,” Burns told BBC radio on Saturday.
“There will be tough negotiations ahead to define the specific nature of those sanctions. This is always a complex business.”
Burns played down suggestions that Russia and China remain reluctant to pursue sanctions against Iran, despite its refusal to comply with an earlier Security Council resolution calling on Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.
“It is very clear that this group of countries is united,” Burns said. “The Iranians believed, apparently, that they could divide this group. They haven’t succeeded in doing that.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country has balked at US-led calls for sanctions on Tehran, reiterated after the talks here Friday that the standoff still could be resolved through negotiations.
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who chaired the talks, cautioned tough work lay ahead.
“It will be some little time before we are actually in the security council. It will require a great deal of work and understanding,” Beckett said.
The foreign ministers here insisted that the door remains open to negotiations if the Islamic republic were to back down.
“We decided in unison to work together in the coming days” on “sanctions which are proportionate and reversible,” said French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy.
“The door to dialogue will remain open,” he added.
Washington has long led charges that Iran’s nuclear program is a covert grab for atomic weapons, something that Tehran has hotly denied. Tehran argues that the nuclear program is purely for civilian energy purposes.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has held a series of talks with Iranian negotiators in recent months in order to get them to consider EU trade proposals in exchange for halting nuclear enrichment, but pressure for an accord intensified after Iran failed to meet a UN deadline by August 31.
Rice has said the United States wants a graduated series of sanctions, to be implemented through multiple UN resolutions that would ramp up pressure on Iran if it persists with its nuclear program.
The first set of measures is expected to focus on preventing the supply of material and funding for Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes.
Other steps could include asset freezes and travel bans on officials linked to possible Iranian weapons programmes.