Nations Seek to Complete Iran Sanctions

The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 13, 2007; 11:14 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- The major powers sought to overcome final differences on a proposed new package of sanctions against Iran on Tuesday amid optimism that they were moving closer to agreement on measures to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

But there was also some frustration _ especially from acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff _ that not all the participants at Tuesday's meeting of the five permanent Security Council nations and Germany had full instructions from their governments on all the proposals in the package.

The modest package of new sanctions against Iran is likely to include an embargo on Iranian arms exports and an asset freeze on more individuals and companies associated with Tehran's nuclear and missile programs, council diplomats said.

It is also likely to include a ban on government loans to Iran _ but a travel ban is out, and there will likely be no ban on arms imports or on export credit guarantees for companies doing business in Iran, the diplomats said.

"There are just one or two issues to resolve," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters after Tuesday's session. "I'm still as optimistic as I was yesterday. I expect a resolution soon. ... We are very close."

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Thomas Matussek headed into Tuesday's meeting saying, "I'm very optimistic." He emerged telling reporters, "It's an unwieldy exercise, but we're working hard and we're getting closer."

In December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose limited sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. It ordered all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs and to freeze assets of 10 key Iranian companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.

The council warned it would adopt further nonmilitary sanctions if Iran refused to comply.

Iran insists its enrichment program is peaceful and aimed solely at producing nuclear energy, but the U.S., European nations, and the U.N. nuclear watchdog are concerned that Iran's goal is to produce nuclear weapons.

When Iran responded to the December resolution by expanding its enrichment program in defiance of the council, the six countries started considering possible new sanctions including a travel ban, an arms embargo, trade restrictions, and an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset freeze.

The United States and the Europeans would certainly favor tough new sanctions, but know they will have to settle for less to ensure that Russia and China, which have close commercial ties with Iran, won't use their veto power to block a resolution.

"Several members of the six have some issues which need to be resolved before we can say that the package has been accomplished," said Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, refusing to disclose any details. "They were as strong in expressing those concerns as Russia and China."

China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said "many of us, not only China" had a problem with the proposed annex to the resolution listing many new individuals and entities to be added to the list of those subject to an asset freeze.

"The objective is to target nuclear and missile activity," he said. "With so many names, we don't know if they're linked."

After Tuesday's meeting, Wolff said, "we had a good discussion."

"There are still issues that delegations have not been able to agree on," he said, without elaborating. "Until we have the full instructions from capitals, so we see where this process is headed, we still have work to do."


Associated Press Writer Sarah DiLorenzo contributed to this report from the United Nations

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