Europe drafts Iran resolution

The draft is being crafted by envoys from France, Britain and Germany — the three countries that have been spearheading failed talks to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear ambitions — in consultation with the United States.

The envoys would not discuss the details of the gradual sanctions being considered.

But officials in Washington said a first set of punitive measures was likely to focus on banning the supply of material and funding for Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Other steps could include asset freezes and travel bans on nuclear and weapons scientists.

“I expect that Iran will be coming (before the council) fairly soon,”
Japan’s UN envoy Kenzo Oshima, the president of the 15-member council for October, said. “It depends on the progress of consultations among key interested countries. But nothing has been discussed yet.”

“It’s not an easy resolution. It’s very technical,” France’s UN envoy Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said on Thursday.

He said he hoped a draft could be discussed by envoys of the council’s five permanent members — the so-called P5: Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States — plus Germany Friday.

A Western diplomat said he did not anticipate a draft to be submitted to the full council before next week.

“We will have a few days between the P5+1 meeting and the consultations (by the full council) so the Russians and Chinese have time to digest the draft,” he added.

Last week senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — finalised a preliminary list of possible sanctions and directed their UN envoys to begin drawing up a sanctions draft.

Their decision came after the European Union concluded after several rounds of fruitless talks with Iran that the issue must be handed back to the Security Council.

But while the six powers agreed on the need for sanctions against Tehran, Russia and China, which both have important economic ties to Iran and traditionally reluctant to use sanctions as a diplomatic tool, are likely to oppose biting sanctions.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin indicated earlier this week that an accord on a draft would take some time.

The West suspects that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic program. But Iran insists its program is for peaceful energy purposes only and argues it has every right to enrich uranium under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran ignored an August 31 deadline set by the Security Council to freeze uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear reactor fuel but also for bomb-making.

On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated in a speech in Islamshahr, southwest of Tehran, that his country would not back down.

“The enrichment of uranium and having nuclear fuel are among the main demands of Iranian nation,” he added in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Wednesday, Iran also warned the Security Council against imposing sanctions saying such a move would “radicalise” the situation and affect its cooperation with the UN atomic agency.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said US-led efforts to put a draft resolution to the Security Council would make ending the standoff even harder and even have consequences for the wider Middle East region.

Last June the P5 and Germany drew up a list of 15 possible punitive measures against Iran as part of a “carrots and sticks” package that also included economic and security incentives if Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment.