Posts Tagged ‘Iranian nuclear program’

UNSC Expected to Vote on Draft Sanctions Soon

June 3, 2010

The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on a draft sanctions resolution against Iran over its disputed nuclear program within the next two weeks according to Claude Heller, Mexico’s U.N. ambassador. If approved, this will be the fourth round of sanctions against Tehran. Iran is already subject to three sets of UN sanctions over its nuclear program, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes but which the U.S. and its allies fear might lead to a nuclear weapon.

“My understanding is that the co-sponsors of the resolution would like to have prompt action by the Security Council, to have a vote … in the next 10 days,” Heller told reporters, adding that there was not yet a finalized date.

The draft resolution was agreed last month by the US, Britain, France and Germany, in addition to China and Russia, who are historically more reluctant to go along with sanctions against Iran. The draft will identify members and companies controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, entities owned or run by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and other individuals and companies linked to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, and will subject these groups and entities to asset freezes and travel bans. The ban would also take measures against new Iranian banks abroad if a connection to Iran’s nuclear or missile programs is suspected, as well as vigilance over transactions with any Iranian bank, including the central bank. It would also expand the U.N. arms embargo against Tehran.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has warned that any new sanctions might result in confrontation.

Mottaki told an audience in Brussels, “There are two options,” to resolve the problem. “The first is based on cooperation, the other is based on confrontation,” he said on the second and last day of his visit to the Belgian capital.

“The resolution” at the United Nations Security Council on imposing new sanctions against Iran “is a basis for confrontation,” he announced, adding, “That is not our preferred option but that’s up to other parties who would like to move in that direction.”

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Iran Agrees “In Principle” to Brazilian Mediation

May 5, 2010

The Iranian president has reportedly agreed “in principle” to Brazilian mediation in the stalled United Nations-backed nuclear fuel swap deal, which was first offered to Iran in October. Iran had initially agreed to the deal, but when Iran’s representative went back to Iran with the news, Iran said it would agree to the deal on a conditional basis: The swap had to take place on Iranian soil and Iran would send out its LEU for reprocessing in smaller doses than the UN-back plan called for. The original plan would have required Iran to send almost 80 percent of its total LEU to Russia for enrichment to the 20 percent level and then to France, for conversion of the enriched uranium into fuel rods to be used in Iran’s for medical and scientific purposes.

A statement issued today by the Iranian president’s office said that President Ahmadinejad spoke about Brazil’s offer of mediation during a conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez–a friend of Iran’s–yesterday.

Brazil has previously called on the international community to show flexibility on the deal. This comes as the West is pressuring for a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

In the past, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said his country would not give up its right under the NPT to enrich uranium. In an interview aired Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said pressure or threats from other countries would not force Iran to change its position. Tehran maintains that it’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but many Western nations remain unconvinced.

Negotiations come a few weeks after the U.S. and Russia agreed to scale back their nuclear weapons caches. In an attempt to be more transparent about its own nuclear program, the Obama administration announced it has 5,113 nuclear warheads.

Pressure on Iran Continues Over Disputed Nuclear Program

April 14, 2010

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday said Iran does not have and will not gain the capacity to build a nuclear weapon for at least another year, although the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and now possibly Russia and China, are considering a 4th round of international sanctions on that country. Iran has long said its disputed nuclear program is for peaceful nuclear energy, but the U.S. and many of its allies are not convinced.

On Sunday, Secretary Gates said he believed Iran was moving slower than expected on its nuclear program and that he believed the country had still not obtained nuclear weapons capacity. Speaking last week during a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean, Gates said, “I think that most estimates that I’ve seen haven’t changed since the last time we talked about it, which is probably at least a year, maybe more.”

Last week, Iran announced the successful testing of third generation centrifuges reportedly capable of enriching uranium six times faster than the ones Iran is currently using at its Natanz enrichment facility.

After much persuasion, Russia and now China seem more willing to accept sanctions on their trading partner. On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told an audience at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution that Iran was ignoring questions from the international community about its nuclear program, using “small phrases” to make “small suggestions.” The Russian president said he does not support crippling sanctions that can hurt the people of Iran, “but if nothing happens, we will have to use sanctions.” Medvedev added that any possible sanctions should be “smart” and “universal,” aimed at one result, and should be discussed with the main countries that will take part in them.

China remains the most resistant of the five veto-wielding UN Security Council members. In a meeting between Beijing and Washington on Monday, President Obama secured a verbal promise from President Hu Jintao of China to join negotiations on a new round of sanctions in Iran. Some analysts believe that China is now ready to sign onto targeted sanctions as relations between the two countries warm. Others believe that China is merely agreeing verbally to the possibility of sanctions to give Washington the impression that it may change its stance on sanctions on Iran, but that when it comes down to it, the energy hungry country will not agree to sanctions on Iran—from whom it gets nearly12 percent of its oil. Still others realize that the only way to get China onboard is to ensure the country an alternative source of energy.