UNITED NATIONS – Britain and France circulated a revised U.N. resolution that would impose sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and predicted approval Friday after a mandatory travel ban was dropped to meet Russian objections.
"What I am confident is that there will be a vote on this before Christmas and that that resolution will carry," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry replied Wednesday when asked whether he was confident that Russia would agree to the latest text.
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said: "We think that we have given our best shot."
Jones Parry said later the draft was put into a final form that can be voted on, but stressed that it can also be changed before the vote, now scheduled for Friday morning. Council members are expected to discuss the revised text on Thursday.
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at the peaceful production of nuclear energy, but the Americans and Europeans suspect Tehran's ultimate goal is the production of nuclear weapons.
The latest draft would order all countries to ban the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It would also impose an asset freeze on key companies and individuals in the country's nuclear and missile programs named on a U.N. list.
But the new draft dropped a mandatory travel ban which Russia said was an unnecessary punishment of Iran.
Instead, the draft resolution now calls on all states "to exercise vigilance" regarding the entry or transit through their territory of those on a U.N. list — which now has the names of 12 top Iranians involved in the country's nuclear and missile programs. It asks the 191 other U.N. member states to notify a Security Council committee that will be created to monitor sanctions when those Iranians show up in their country.
While not the mandatory travel ban, Jones Parry said the compromise "will preserve a check on everybody moving."
Acting U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Washington was studying the new text.
He said the new language on travel allows countries to decide whether they're going to allow people to travel to their country or not. "So it does not exclude banning travel," he said.
In other changes, the new draft asks countries to report to the sanctions committee in 60 days — not 30 days — on steps they have taken to implement the measures. It also says the council will review Iran's actions in light of a report from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, requested within 60 days, on whether Iran has suspended uranium enrichment and complied with other IAEA demands.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tuesday that possible Security Council sanctions would not stop Iran from pursuing uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or fuel for a nuclear bomb.
If the IAEA verifies that Iran has suspended enrichment and reprocessing, the resolution says the sanctions will be suspended to allow for negotiations. It says sanctions will be terminated as soon as the IAEA board confirms that Iran has complied with all its obligations.
If Iran fails to comply with the resolution, the draft says the council will adopt "further appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter 7" of the U.N. Charter.
Article 41 authorizes the Security Council to impose nonmilitary sanctions such as completely or partially severing diplomatic and economic relations, transportation and communications links.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow earlier Wednesday that the proposed sanctions were too broad and included wording that would block legitimate economic ties with Iran.
He said a "quick agreement" was possible if the United States and its European partners return to the original understanding that sanctions should not be used as punishment against Iran and that the Security Council should not try to usurp the role of the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
Six countries who have been leading negotiations with Iran — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the U.S. — offered Tehran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and committed itself to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program.
With Iran refusing to comply with an Aug. 31 council deadline to stop enrichment, Britain and France circulated a draft sanctions resolution in late October, which has been revised several times since then.
To meet concerns of Russia and China that the original resolution was too broad, it was revised to specify in greater detail exactly what materials and technology would be prohibited from being supplied to Iran and to name those individuals and companies that would be affected.
The first revision also removed a reference to a nuclear facility being built by the Russians at Bushehr, Iran — another demand by Russia. The facility, expected to go on line in late 2007, would be Iran's first atomic power plant.