Iran sanctions talks expected at U.N. next week
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The 15-member U.N. Security Council expects to have a draft resolution next week on additional sanctions to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, barring last minute snags, the council's president said.
South Africa's U.N. ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, who assumed the rotating council presidency, told reporters on Friday major powers were trying to include all members in discussions compared to last year when they talked only among themselves until shortly before the vote.
"Between Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they expect us to have some draft, depending on the discussions the political directors will engage in a phone call on Saturday," Kumalo said, referring to senior foreign ministry officials.
No date has been set for a vote and changes in the language are bound to drag out but the prediction of a text being circulated in New York next week indicated progress among the negotiators.
"In the course of next week, I would be disappointed if it's not here," said Britain's ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry.
The United States and leading European countries suspect Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic program. Tehran denies the charge and says its program is for generating electricity.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he did not expect senior negotiators from the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany to have completed the draft that would be worked on in New York.
But he said "most of the major work on what will be the guts of this resolution -- that's what's being worked on now," adding: "We expect that that should be able to be wrapped up tomorrow in the conference call."
The new measures are a follow-up to a key Security Council resolution in December that imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology as well as other penalties after Iran refused to suspend uranium enrichment. The sanctions would be suspended if Tehran complied.
According to U.S. and European diplomats, the sanctions are expected to include a mandatory travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the nuclear program and an expansion of the list of banned nuclear material and technology Iran and import and export.
Also under consideration is enlarging the list of Iranian officials whose assets were frozen in the December resolution. But envoys said proposals for a total arms embargo would be dropped because of Russian objections as would a ban on visas for students studying nuclear technology abroad.
Negotiators also discussed restricting export credits provided by governments to companies doing business in Iran. Washington has pushed for Europe to end such credits.
To cut down negotiating time, the new U.N. resolution is expected to use the same framework and much of the language of the December resolution.
"This resolution, I would expect, will be incremental," and would build on the earlier one, McCormack said.
But he said that despite U.S. reservations that the December resolution was not strong enough "it actually has been a very effective mechanism by which to pressure the Iranian regime."
That resolution was a "big flag to the business community when they're making investment decisions that are going to take years and years to play out," McCormack said.
"So the business leaders, financial leaders are going to take a look and say, 'What's our risk assessment? Are we really going to be able to realize the return on the investment? What are the attendant political as well as other risks of that investment?'"