Major Powers Agree on Contents of New Iran UN Resolution
By David Gollust
22 January 2008
Foreign ministers of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany said Tuesday they have agreed on the contents of a new sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program. U.S. officials say it will toughen travel bans and asset freezes against Iranian leaders. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The agreement, which breaks a months-long stalemate over terms of a resolution, was announced by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a brief statement capping a two-hour meeting in Berlin.
Steinmeier gave no details of the draft resolution, which he said would be submitted jointly to the Security Council by Germany, France and Britain in the coming weeks.
The Security Council has already approved two binding Chapter Seven sanction resolutions against Iran, one in December 2006 and the other in March of last year, for defying U.N. demands that it halt uranium enrichment.
The six powers, called the P5 Plus 1, agreed in principle on a third resolution last September, but U.S. officials said the drafting process was slowed by differences with Russia and China.
U.S. diplomats in Berlin said the new resolution would increase the severity of travel bans and asset freezes already targeting key Iranian figures, while European officials said it does not include broader sanctions on the Iranian economy.
The Bush administration had wanted to see far-reaching sanctions, matching its own measures aimed at the Iranian banking system.
However State Department Acting Spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos expressed satisfaction with the Berlin outcome, saying it upholds the basic strategy of penalizing Iran for its defiance of the U.N. while offering incentives to resolve the nuclear issue diplomatically.
"The P5 Plus 1 has reaffirmed a commitment to a two-track strategy. It sends a strong message to Iran that it needs to comply with U.N. Chapter-Seven resolutions," he said. "They are becoming increasingly isolated and I think this shows they aren't able to divide us in our commitment to this effort."
Russia and China are reported to have stiffened their opposition to wide-ranging economic sanctions after last month's U.S. intelligence assessment that Iran halted its covert weapons program in 2003.
But diplomats said all five of the veto-wielding Security Council member countries intend to vote for the new draft.
German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, whose country is not a current council member, said the P5 Plus 1 are united in the view that a nuclear armed Iran would have dramatic consequences for the Middle East and beyond.
Iran said earlier Tuesday that new sanctions would not stop it from pursuing its legitimate right to civilian nuclear energy.
Bush administration officials say that even though Tehran apparently suspended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, it lied about the program's existence and could easily re-start it, if allowed to continue its enrichment work.
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