U.N. Iran Sanctions Likely to Include Arms Sales
By Thomas Omestad
Posted 3/9/07
A draft U.N. Security Council resolution increasing sanctions on Iran could be ready for formal consideration by late next week, though more time may be needed, says a senior State Department official. After discussions among political directors of the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany and then more talks among their ambassadors at the United Nations, "they've basically agreed on the elements in it," the official tells U.S. News. Compared with the difficult and lengthy deliberations last fall over a sanctions resolution designed to punish Iran for its nuclear activities, this time the United States and Russia–along with Britain, France, Germany, and China–have had "a solid agreement since the beginning" on the need for a resolution that provides for an "incremental ratcheting up" of penalties.

There are disagreements on the forthcoming sanctions, however. In particular, the United States differs with Russia–and also with China–as to "how far and deep you go" on the next round of sanctions.

"It's haggling over the details rather than over any of the major stuff," says the official. The current round of negotiations was triggered when Iran ignored a Security Council deadline for it to suspend all activities related to the enrichment of uranium and the future reprocessing of plutonium in Iran. The Bush administration and others suspect that Iran is vying for nuclear weapons, or at least the capability to make them, though Iran says its efforts are for developing nuclear energy and for other research.

The broad agreement among the six–who plan on ironing out remaining differences before presenting a draft resolution to the other Security Council members–includes an expansion of a travel ban on more of the key Iranians working on the nuclear programs; an expansion to more Iranian officials and entities of a ban on commerce related to nuclear and military products and a freeze on their overseas assets; and some as-yet unclear level of restrictions on arms sales to Iran. The U.S. official says the sanctions will move deeper into Iran's "military-industrial complex"–beyond the nuclear-specific sanctions ordered by the Security Council on December 23. Unlike last fall's debates, China has been more defensive of its commercial interests this time than has Russia.

"The equities are more in the Chinese court," says the official. The official adds that the first round of U.N. sanctions appear to be affecting Tehran and that further sanctions should too: "It's not going to rock the world, but it's going to increase the pressure."

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