UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - After months of tough negotiations, Security Council powers said on Tuesday they were set to vote on a resolution that would impose a fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program.
Mexico’s U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, current president of the 15-nation Security Council, told reporters it was due to meet for the vote at 10 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, after agreement was reached on who would be targeted in Iran.
The resolution, if approved, would impose “the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Ecuador’s capital, Quito.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the expected passage of the resolution would provide a springboard for individual countries to take their own tougher measures against Tehran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.
Iran, however, warned its close trading partner Russia against joining Western nations in backing new punitive measures against the Islamic Republic.
Western diplomats expect 12 of the council members, including all the five that hold vetoes, to vote for the resolution. Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon are not expected to support it.
The resolution, obtained by Reuters, lists one individual and 40 entities, including one bank, to be blacklisted. It names the individual as Javad Rahiqi, head of a nuclear center in Isfahan where Iran runs a uranium processing facility.
Diplomats said China had demanded that one company, the Export Development Bank of Iran, be struck off the list.
Rahiqi and the firms added to an existing U.N. blacklist for suspected ties to Iran’s nuclear or missile programs will face international asset freezes, if the resolution is adopted. Rahiqi will face a global travel ban.
The draft resolution was the product of five months of talks between the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. The four Western powers had wanted tougher measures — some targeting Iran’s energy sector — but Beijing and Moscow worked hard to dilute the proposed steps.
The resolution calls for measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to the nuclear or missile programs is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank.
It also would expand the U.N. arms embargo against Tehran and blacklist three entities controlled by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and 15 belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The resolution would also establish a cargo inspection regime similar to one in place for North Korea.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters in New York that Washington remained open to dialogue with Iran as part of the council’s dual strategy of engagement and pressure.
“Our aim remains to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program and negotiate constructively,” she said.
But Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog warned of an “appropriate reaction” against world powers if they imposed new sanctions. An Iranian lawmaker said Tehran would reconsider its cooperation with the Vienna-based watchdog if the sanctions went ahead — a threat Tehran has made before.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at making atomic weapons, as the West suspects. It has defied five Security Council resolutions demanding it stop enriching uranium, which can produce fuel for bombs or reactors.
Gates said in London that individual nations likely would move quickly to pass measures that go beyond the U.N. sanctions.
“I believe that a number of nations are prepared to act pretty promptly,” he said.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admonished Russia at a news conference in Istanbul, where he was attending a summit along with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to take care “not to be on the side of the enemies of the Iranian people.”
Putin, who said he expected to meet Ahmadinejad on Tuesday in Istanbul, said the sanctions should not be excessive.
“We will have an opportunity to discuss these problems if my Iranian colleague will have such a need,” he said, adding there should be no obstacles to the “development of Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy.
The Iranian president said a nuclear fuel swap deal agreed by Tehran with Turkey and Brazil was an opportunity that would not be repeated. The deal, which has been rejected by the West as too little too late, was intended to defuse the crisis.
Turkey and Brazil last month revived parts of a U.N.-backed offer for Tehran to part with 1,200 kg (2,600 pounds) of low enriched uranium in return for special fuel rods for a medical research reactor. They say the deal removes the need for sanctions.
Ahmadinejad said the swap deal was a one-time offer.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul urged Ahmadinejad on Monday to tell the international community his government was ready to cooperate and solve the dispute over its nuclear program.
Additional reporting by Jon Hemming and Gleb Bryanski in Istanbul, Adam Entous in London and Andrew Quinn in Quito; editing by Eric Beech