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US seeks UN draft resolution on Iran sanctions

by Michael Adler

Agence France Presse – The United States wants a UN Security Council resolution on imposing sanctions on Iran over its contested nuclear program drafted as early as next week, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Friday.

This would allow foreign ministers from the six nations trying to win guarantees that Iran will not make nuclear weapons to "complete a sanctions resolution" when they meet in New York at the UN General Assembly the week after next, Burns said.

But Burns told a press event at the American Academy think tank here that the six nations — the five permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany — "did not come to an agreement" on punitive measures when they met in Berlin Thursday.

Russia and China, which are major trading partners of Iran, are reluctant to impose sanctions on Iran, fearing an escalation of the confrontation and possibly even war.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who is to meet with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani Saturday, said no UN sanctions would be imposed on Iran as long as such talks continued.

"I can tell you that there will be no movement in New York (towards sanctions) as long as meetings with Mr. Larijani continue," Solana said during a visit to Copenhagen on Friday.
"This is a very complex issue but we began a discussion," on a sanctions regime, Burns said of the talks in Berlin.

The six are seeking talks with Iran on a package of benefits for the Islamic Republic but demand that Tehran first suspend uranium enrichment, which makes nuclear reactor fuel but also atom bomb material.

Iran has defied this call as well as a Security Council resolution demanding a freeze by August 31 of the strategic fuel work and threatening sanctions if Tehran did not comply.
Burns said there would be telephone discussions Monday among the six world powers.
"The American view is that following these discussions on Monday and perhaps some others early next week, we should move this to the Security Council and we should draft a resolution," he said.

"Absent some kind of last-minute Iranian compromise where they would suspend their enrichment program, and we would hope they would do that… I think it is very clear we are heading very shortly to the Security Council to consider a sanctions regime," Burns said.

Burns refused to say what specific measures were discussed but diplomats said the six nations were working from a list of graduated sanctions that begin with symbolic gestures such as limiting travel by Iranian nuclear scientists and progress towards widespread international economic bans.

"We do think that the sanctions should be targeted," at first, Burns said.

"They are meant to raise the cost to the Iranian government of its present actions," he said.
Burns said the six nations remain committed to their agreement in June to offer Iran benefits but to threaten sanctions if Iran did not halt uranium enrichment.

"We’re just grateful that China and Russia have committed themselves" to this process, Burns said, adding that the United States expected this deal to be kept.

"Now is the time to take up our responsibilities," Burns said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has insisted that Iran would defend its nuclear activities "with firmness" during any international negotiations, and would not give up enrichment as a pre-condition for talks.

Washington is spearheading the drive for sanctions but even key US allies such as Italy and Japan fear that strong trade embargoes against Iran could harm their economies, diplomats said.

Germany has also indicated that it fears a sanctions drive could be counter-productive.
"The EU and Germany have no interest in seeing an escalation in the coming days and weeks as a result of the consultations at the Security Council," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said last weekend.