UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - South Africa wants to drop all key U.N. sanctions proposals against Iran that were negotiated by major powers, including an arms embargo and financial bans on an Iranian state bank and the Revolutionary Guards.
While the draft could probably be adopted by the Security Council without South Africa’s backing, the major powers had wanted passage to be unanimous, and include an important developing nation such as South Africa.
In a paper of “required amendments” sent to the 15 council members on Sunday and obtained by reporters on Monday, South Africa also called for all sanctions to be suspended for 90 days so another round of political negotiations could be held with Tehran.
Consequently, council diplomats, who had hoped for a vote on the draft resolution this week, said they did not expect one until next week. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to address the council on the day of the vote about how Iran’s nuclear program is for generating electricity only.
The object of the resolution is to pressure Iran to halt uranium enrichment work, which can be used for peaceful purposes or to help make nuclear bombs.
Saying his country was “not window dressing” to big powers, South African U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, this month’s council president, told reporters the draft “was not written by God.”
He said South Africa’s main objective was to limit sanctions to nuclear materials and technology and not expand them, as the draft does, into other areas.
The new proposed resolution is a follow-up to one adopted by the Security Council on December 23 that imposed trade sanctions on sensitive nuclear materials and technology and froze assets of key Iranian individuals, groups and businesses.
Its key measures are an embargo on any conventional as well as unconventional arms Iran is allowed to export and a list of people and companies whose assets abroad would be frozen.
The South African paper eliminates most of the list, including the state-owned Bank Sepah, Revolutionary Guard commanders and the companies they control.
‘TIMEOUT’ FOR NEGOTIATIONS
And it asks for a 90-day “timeout” to allow “for political negotiations to find a long-term solution.”
The paper says this is based on a proposal by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. But ElBaradei’s version of a “timeout” was that the sanctions should be suspended at the same time as Iran halted its enrichment work, and he gave no time frame.
The new draft, like the December resolution, calls for the U.N. sanctions to be suspended only after Iran stops uranium enrichment work so negotiations can resume.
After intensive negotiations, Germany and the permanent council members with veto rights -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- agreed on a text last week.
Adoption requires a minimum of nine votes and no veto. The sponsors probably have that but their aim was to show a united front toward Iran.
In addition to the five powers, the 10 elected council members, who serve for two-year terms, are: Congo Republic, Ghana, Peru, Qatar, Slovakia, Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa.
In response, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, said, “I don‘t, myself, see the South African amendments themselves as being helpful to the sort of approach I’ve adopted, but that’s for discussion.”