Progress made on new Iran sanctions: U.S. official
Thu Mar 1, 2007 8:32 PM EST
By Carol Giacomo, Diplomatic Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major powers on Thursday made progress toward agreeing on new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program and hope to have their U.N. ambassadors begin drafting a formal Security Council resolution next week, a senior U.S. official said.
The official told Reuters senior officials representing the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany "were able to resolve most of the issues" in a two-hour conference call on Thursday and hoped to complete their deliberations in another conference call on Saturday.
Washington and leading European countries say they suspect Iran has a covert nuclear bomb agenda. Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear program is solely aimed at generating electricity.
The first sanctions resolution seeking suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment program was approved by the Security Council in December. It took the United States and its partners several months of bitter wrangling to pass the resolution and the Americans, at least, are keen to avoid that kind of division this time.
But despite the Security Council's unified commitment to dissuade Iran from pursuing uranium enrichment, Russia and China have often had serious objections to specific penalties.
"They are working on the guts of a resolution ... They were able to resolve most issues (but) they still have a few left so they will get together Saturday morning via telephone," said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The hope and expectation is that they can then move this over to permanent representatives in New York who can start drafting the actual test of the resolution," he added.
Earlier, however, a European Union diplomat said, "A wish list of incrementally increased sanctions has been circulated but the discussion is nowhere near mature and this will not go to the Security Council for 2-3 more weeks."
RIGHT TO NUCLEAR ENERGY
In Madrid, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his government wants a negotiated solution to its nuclear standoff with world powers but this must recognize an Iranian right to a peaceful nuclear program.
World powers have said they accept Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy but not to nuclear weapons. Continued ... © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.