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UN Security Council Nears Approval of Iran Sanctions


Sponsors of an Iran sanctions resolution in the U.N. Security Council say the measure could be approved by the end of the year. VOA's correspondent at the U.N. Peter Heinlein reports.

European powers Germany, France and Britain Monday presented a new draft of their proposal to penalize Iran for its suspect nuclear activities. The measure was discussed during a closed-door Security Council session.

Afterward, the French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the resolution could be adopted before Christmas.

"This is text, which is a firm text, at the same time taking into account remarks by other countries, we would be able to reach an agreement in the Council and we hope very soon," said Jean-Marc de La Sabliere.

The new draft is less sweeping than earlier versions that have drawn sharp objections from veto-wielding Security Council powers China and Russia. It calls for a ban on travel and a freezing of assets of institutions and persons involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It softens a proposed ban on missile and technology transfers to Iran, but Britain's U.N. Emyr Jones-Parry says the revised measure still achieves its intended objective.

"The intent of the resolution remains totally unaffected," said Emyr Jones-Parry. "It is two-fold. It is to stop any risk of proliferation of nuclear sensitive and missile technologies, and at the same time to try to encourage Iran to accept the binding obligation imposed by the Council and come back into negotiations."

The sponsors emphasized that the resolution, though legally-binding under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, is not intended to be punitive. They noted that, if Iran complies, sanctions would be reversed.

The Frenchy news agency AFP quoted US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying she is optimistic the draft resolution will be quickly adopted by the Security Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Monday the revised text was in line with Moscow's goal of encouraging Iran to sit down at the negotiating table. Russia had argued that previous versions were too severe.

Iran defied an earlier resolution that set an August 31 deadline for suspending uranium enrichment. Iranian officials say the country is expanding its enrichment activities, and will continue despite any sanctions.

Iran maintains it has a right to enrich uranium for what it says is a future nuclear power program. But the International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed concerns that Tehran could abuse the technology to produce weapons-grade materials.

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