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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


UN Powers Reach 'Agreement in Principle' on New Iran Sanctions

15 March 2007

Major world powers have agreed in principle on a package of new U.N. penalties against Iran for its suspect nuclear activities. VOA's correspondent at the United Nations Peter Heinlein reports backers of the deal hope to present it to the Security Council Thursday.

U.N. Ambassadors from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany Wednesday struck a tentative deal on the text of an Iran sanctions resolution. Pending objections in capital cities overnight, the deal will be presented to the Security Council Thursday.

Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry of main sponsor Britain expressed confidence that Russian and Chinese objections that held up agreement for nearly two weeks have been overcome. "Our hope is now that we've overcome our particular hurdle. It will be for the Council rightly to dispose, but the council will have a text before it, we're confident, tomorrow," he said.

Washington's acting U.N. ambassador Alejandro Wolff cautioned that nothing is definite until it is approved in capitals. He declined to say what compromises had been made during a series of discussions during the day, but he expressed satisfaction that a way forward had been found. "We have an agreement in principle based on some additional changes that were introduced and presented today by some delegations. So it's new elements and understandings that need confirmation from capitals. But it is a package approach, if approved by capitals, would be essentially the way forward," he said.

The package includes a strengthening of penalties imposed in an earlier Council resolution adopted last December, after Iran refused to halt uranium enrichment. A copy of the latest draft obtained by VOA calls for an embargo on Iranian weapons exports. It also urges all nations and international financial institutions to restrict new loans to Iran.

Russia and China had earlier objected to some names that had been included in a list of Iranian individuals and other entities that would be hit with an assets freeze and other penalties.

Ambassador Wolff said late Wednesday, however, that negotiations had resulted in what he called "a good outcome" on the list. He did not elaborated.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that while many ambassadors are checking with their capitals on the deal, he assumed they would get a positive response.

Wednesday's agreement does not ensure rapid approval by the Security Council. Sponsors of the resolution say they hope it can be put to a vote next week.

But South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, who holds the Council presidency for March, says the ten non-permanent members will carefully review the draft. Kumalo and other non-permanent member ambassadors have been outspoken in criticizing the veto-wielding permanent members for excluding them from the preliminary drafting process.

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