Big powers reach tentative deal on Iran sanctions
United Nations, Mar 15: Ambassadors from six major powers reached a tentative deal on imposing sanctions on Iran that they hope to introduce to the 15-nation UN Security Council today, providing their governments agree.
The text, obtained by Reuters, includes a ban on Iranian arms exports, an assets freeze on individuals and firms involved in Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and a call to nations and institutions to bar new grants or loans.
The measure, which may be adopted next week, would penalise Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used in nuclear bombs or for peaceful ends.
''We have an agreement in principle based on some additional changes that were introduced and presented today by some delegations,'' Alexander Wolff, a US ambassador, said late yesterday. ''So it's new elements and understandings that need confirmation from capitals.'' British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, who would introduce the draft, told reporters, ''The text needs to be cleaned up and put to capitals for their final consideration overnight and our expectation is that (today) we will be able to put it in.'' The new measures follow a resolution adopted in December that imposed trade sanctions on Iran's sensitive nuclear materials and technology, and froze the assets of some Iranian individuals and companies. Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful uses only, ignored a February 21 deadline to suspend enrichment or face further action.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the text of the new draft resolution ''by and large'' had been agreed on, adding, ''We're pleased with the outcome.'' China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, did not give the draft a ringing endorsement, objecting to the long list of people and companies liable for financial sanctions, such as firms owned by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp and the state-owned Bank Sepah.
''With the list I am not happy, but one has to reach agreement so there has to be a package,'' Wang said.
He said intelligence given in compiling the list could be incorrect, ''so that's why we have to be careful.'' On the arms embargo, the text says Iran is banned from exporting any conventional weapons. But the measure calls on states to ''exercise vigilance and restraint'' in shipping any heavy weapons to Tehran.
The draft does not have a mandatory travel ban on individuals on the list but orders nations to notify a Security Council panel if the targeted officials enter their territories.
The measure would suspend all the sanctions if Iran complies with the council's demands within 60 days. If Tehran does not, further action would be considered.
So far, Tehran has shown no sign of relenting.
''If you think ... you can make the Iranian nation surrender, you are wrong,'' Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a rally in central Iran yesterday.
Ahmadinejad is considering coming to New York to address the Security Council when the resolution is adopted.
Despite the tentative agreement, the six negotiators did not meet as a group on Wednesday, with China's Wang refusing to attend a session called at Britain's UN offices rather than at UN headquarters, in part because the press would have to stand outside.
''It's not convenient for the ambassadors and also not convenient for the press, when I saw them suffering Friday after the meeting,'' he told reporters. ''I don't want you to suffer, if there is rain, if it is cold outside.'' ''I got a call asking me to be there and I said 'No, I prefer here. This is what is agreed,''' Wang said.