Reuters: Britain’s U.N. ambassador said agreement was emerging on a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program but Russia is still opposed to a travel ban on Iranian officials. By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Britain’s U.N. ambassador said agreement was emerging on a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program but Russia is still opposed to a travel ban on Iranian officials.
Ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States said talks on Friday made progress during negotiations on the Security Council resolution drafted by the Europeans and supported by Washington.
“I think a deal is emerging,” British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters. “I think on all of the elements that were contentious, there is now a way through them.”
He said he hoped to have a final text by Tuesday so a vote could be held next week in the 15-member council.
But Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said “things are not ready yet” although “we are moving ahead.”
“We have made some modest progress, but there are some things to be discussed,” Churkin said. “So we are going back to the capitals and meeting Monday morning.”
In the main, the resolution bans imports and exports of materials and technology relating to uranium enrichment, reprocessing or heavy-water reactors as well as ballistic missile delivery systems for a bomb.
Diplomats said Russia wanted some changes here also. Churkin has said he opposed a travel embargo on 11 agencies or businesses and 12 individuals involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.
The draft resolution also calls for a freeze on assets abroad for this same group but Russia wants a council sanctions committee to select the targets, a slow process.
Acting U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States insisted on keeping the travel ban in the text. “We want to vote this as soon as possible and have this resolution adopted,” Wolff said.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said there was “modest progress” but “I think we could make it next week.”
The proposals are 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 purposes, while the West believes its research is a cover for bomb making.
Iran’s top negotiator on nuclear issues said on Friday Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions were adopted.
“If they want to deprive Iran of its nuclear work they are making a big mistake. If they want to act in a way to decrease our capabilities through sanctions we will be obliged to use painful methods in return,” said Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, without elaborating.
To meet objections from Russia and backed by China, the Europeans have already softened the resolution by narrowing the list of prohibited materials and technology.
The new draft also made clear that light-water reactors and fuel for them are excluded from sanctions, such as the nuclear plant being built by Russia at Bushehr in southern Iran, which is expected to be finished in late 2007.
The European text says the council would suspend the sanctions if Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, decides Iran has suspended its uranium work and stopped efforts to set up a heavy-water nuclear energy reactor. He reports within 60 days.
Russia wants sanctions lifted if Iran complies.