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Russian nuclear project snags Iran sanctions deal

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 25 (Reuters) European powers have given Russia and China a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program but Washington has not agreed to all its provisions, diplomats said today.

The Bush administration, which received the draft earlier, wants the resolution to halt Russia's work at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, the diplomats and U.S. officials in Washington told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

''Bushehr is a red line for the Russians,'' one UN Security Council member said on Wednesday. The plant in southwestern Iran is due to begin operation next year, The current UN Security Council draft from the Europeans exempts ''construction'' of Bushehr and appears to allow some 1,500 Russians to continue working at the site, said one European diplomat.

The exemption does not extend to fuel deliveries, the diplomat said, meaning Russia would not be permitted to fuel the reactor, which it is contracted to do in 2007.

A unified front among Britain, France, Germany -- lead negotiators with Iran -- and the United States has been key to international efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at making weapons and Iran says is for energy production.

The four wanted agreement with Russia and China before the resolution reached the full 15-member council. The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China are permanent council members with veto power while Germany is a key negotiator.

China's UN deputy ambassador, Liu Zhenmin, told reporters the draft had been sent to Beijing and that all six nations planned to meet tomorrow afternoon.

The resolution is expected to ban nuclear and missile technology transfers to Iran, according to diplomats in Vienna and Washington, who had seen the text.

The measure would also ban financial transactions abroad and a travel ban on Iranians involved in nuclear program, said the diplomats, who would not be named because the resolution had not been made public.

Nuclear-related technical assistance to Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, would be limited to ''medical or humanitarian purposes'' or ''safety standards,'' according to the draft resolution.

The draft, sections of which were read to Reuters, said nations had to ''prevent the supply, sale or transfer'' to Iran of ''all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program.'' It also said nations should ''take the necessary measures to prevent the provision to Iran of technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment brokering or other services and the transfer of financial resources or services related to Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile programs.'' But the Bushehr reactor, worth an estimated 800 million dollars to Russia, is still a problem although one US official in Washington told Reuters he thought a compromise would emerge.

''It'll just be a matter of where you draw the line. Do you allow construction but not delivery of fuel? How do you work it?'' said the official.

Reuters PB DB2318

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