U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she is satisfied with a pending U.N. Security Council resolution punishing Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, though the measure has been softened at the behest of Moscow. The sanctions measure could be approved by the council as early as Friday. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
The Secretary says the sanctions resolution could have come sooner, and would have been more severe toward Iran if the United States had been the sole author.
But she says she is quite satisfied with the European-sponsored version, possibly headed for a vote Friday, which will penalize Iran for defying the international community by not halting enrichment activity.
Rice spoke at a joint press appearance with Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay as diplomats in New York worked to put finishing touches on the sanctions measure.
Though the resolution is reported to have been softened considerably at the insistence of Russia, Rice said curbs being put on Iran will still be binding under Chapter Seven of the U.N. charter and have a broad negative impact on Iran's global financial dealings:
"I just want to underscore that a Chapter Seven resolution puts Iran in some very unwelcome company in terms of the international community, in terms of the decisions people will make about Iran as a partner in the international economy. And that that more than anything is the importance of this resolution," she said.
The European draft would bar trade with Iran in materials and technology that could advance its uranium enrichment and reprocessing efforts, and its ballistic missile program.
News reports say that in a concession to Russia, negotiators eased a proposed travel ban on key figures in Iran's nuclear and missile programs.
Rice, who discussed the resolution by telephone Thursday with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, said last minute changes to the European draft were still being discussed.
She said she has been assured by Moscow that it also wants to prevent Iran from acquiring technologies that could lead to nuclear weapons.
However, officials here said it was unclear whether Russia would actually vote for the resolution or abstain, which would still allow the sanctions to go forward.
The Security Council had initially set an August 31 deadline for Iran to halt enrichment or face sanctions, but negotiations over a punitive resolution have dragged on for months.
Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful but has refused to stop enrichment, saying it has a right to develop a complete nuclear fuel cycle.