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Diplomats: No Vote on New Iran Sanctions Before Saturday


Members of the U.N. Security Council say a vote on a new resolution imposing a third round of sanctions against Iran for its controversial nuclear program will probably not happen before Saturday. Western diplomats had hoped to pass the resolution before the end of February. From United Nations headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

The co-sponsors of the draft resolution, Britain and France, called a meeting Thursday afternoon of the Security Council hoping to finalize the text of the resolution. But lack of consensus among some of the 10 non-permanent council members has delayed that until at least Friday. Diplomats say a vote could likely follow on Saturday.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador, John Sawers, told reporters that had a vote taken place Thursday the resolution would have passed.

"Had we put it to a vote today, the resolution would clearly have passed, but we want to have as much support as is possible. One delegation has suggested some small amendments that we are reflecting upon; another delegation is considering whether to ask for a meeting with us tomorrow morning to address any concerns that it might have, and we have made clear we are prepared to go the extra mile to do that," he said.

All five veto-wielding council members are on board with the text, and the measure is certain to have enough support to pass. But Ambassador Sawers noted that there is an important political element to the measure, and that the wider the base of support for the resolution, the clearer the political signal that is sent to Tehran.

In two previous sanctions resolutions, the security council has demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium, but Tehran has not complied and says it is its legal right to continue enriching uranium for peaceful purposes. Many countries fear Iran's actions are intended for the production of nuclear bombs, not energy.

Four non-permanent council members have expressed concern about the resolution--Libya, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam.

Indonesian Ambassador Marty Natalegawa said after the meeting that Jakarta is yet to be convinced that more sanctions are the best way to go right now. "We have been told that additional steps are only incremental, they are minor, they are symbolic, they are messages. Then if that's the case, then why do we bother? Why are we risking Security Council unity for steps some of the co-sponsors are saying are only minor and only incremental and only symbolic?," he said.

Last week, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran has made progress in providing information about its nuclear program, but not enough to prove it is developing its nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes.

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