Iran Nuclear NewsU.S. differs with Europeans on Iran sanctions draft

U.S. differs with Europeans on Iran sanctions draft

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Reuters: Six major powers meet for the first time on Thursday over a European draft U.N. resolution banning Iranian trade on nuclear materials and ballistic missiles that has drawn criticism from the United States, diplomats said. By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Six major powers meet for the first time on Thursday over a European draft U.N. resolution banning Iranian trade on nuclear materials and ballistic missiles that has drawn criticism from the United States, diplomats said.

France, Britain and Germany sent Russia and China the text on Tuesday of a Security Council sanctions resolution that would require nations to stop the supply, sale or transfer of materials for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and freeze any financing for them.

But, among other U.S. objections, the measure exempts Russia and allows it to continue construction of a nuclear power plant for Iran at Bushehr, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the talks.

The Bush administration wants to make sure Moscow does not deliver a fuel cycle that could be used for weapons.

On Thursday, all six countries hold an initial meeting on the resolution, which Russia and China had sent to their governments for analysis. More changes are expected to the European draft before it is circulated to the full 15-member Security Council.

A unified front among Britain, France, Germany — lead negotiators with Iran — and the United States has been key to efforts to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at making weapons and Iran maintains is for energy production.

Still, Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state, told Reuters Television he believed agreement would be reached and that Bushehr would not be a “major stumbling point.”

Burns, visiting Colombia, said Washington was “comfortable” with the idea of states providing Tehran with nuclear fuel and energy — providing that a fuel cycle with the capability to make weapons was excluded.

But France’s U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told reporters, “We have always said there would be an exception for Bushehr.”

Another council envoy said, “Bushehr is a red line for the Russians,” indicating a veto if the exemption were diluted. The plant in southwestern Iran is to begin operations next year.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China are permanent Security Council members with veto power, while Germany is a key negotiator on Iran.

France’s de la Sabliere said the resolution, as agreed to by political directors earlier, would invoke Article 41 under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for enforcement of sanctions but excludes military action.

He said the measure included a travel ban on people responsible for and involved in the program, but that if Iran suspended its nuclear program during negotiations, “the council will lift the sanctions.”

The draft, sections of which were read to Reuters, said nations had to “prevent the supply, sale or transfer” to Iran of “all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.”

It says nations should “take the necessary measures to prevent the provision to Iran of technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment brokering or other services and the transfer of financial resources or services related to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs.”

Nuclear-related technical assistance to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, would be limited to “medical or humanitarian purposes” or “safety standards,” according to the text.

(Additional reporting by Carol Giacomo and Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Mark Heinrich in Vienna)

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