UNITED NATIONS – Britain and France formally introduced a Security Council resolution Thursday calling for a third round of sanctions against Iran over its failure to suspend uranium enrichment.
The United States pushed hardest for the sanctions, but China and Russia — the remaining permanent council members — along with Germany have been in general agreement on them.
The six nations circulated a draft earlier calling for bans on travel and equipment that can be used in civilian and nuclear programs, more monitoring of Iran's financial institutions and inspection of air and sea cargo heading to or from Iran.
Iran says it will only deal with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, which found last November that Tehran was generally truthful about aspects of its nuclear history. But the new resolution, elaborating on the earlier draft, encourages European Union to continue working with Iran on finding "a negotiated solution ... with a view to create necessary conditions for resuming talks" on its nuclear program.
The latest revision also makes some minor changes. "The text that we've circulated today reflects some of the comments we've had back from delegations," said John Sawers, Britain's U.N. ambassador. "This is as part of our twin-track approach of requiring Iran to suspend their most sensitive nuclear activities, and to abide by the requests of the IAEA for full transparency."
A declassified U.S. intelligence report last December saying that Iran had put its nuclear weapons program on hold in 2003 appeared to detract from the Bush administration's argument that Iran is a threat. But Security Council diplomats say a third set of sanctions is all but certain to be approved.
South Africa, Libya and Indonesia have each expressed reservations with the initial text, saying they preferred to wait for a report from the U.N. nuclear agency, IAEA, on the situation in Iran that is expected to be issued this week.
The six global powers offered Iran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June 2006 if it agreed to freeze uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program. But Iran has refused, despite two previous sets of U.N. sanctions.
Iran insists its enrichment activities are intended only to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, but the U.S., the European Union and others suspect its real aim is to produce atomic weapons.
Under the proposed new sanctions, all countries would have to ban the entry or transit of individuals involved in Iran's nuclear program — a step up from a previous call for vigilance over their travel.
For the first time, trade in equipment and technology that can be used in both civilian and nuclear programs would also be banned.
The proposed resolution also calls on countries to inspect cargo heading to or from Iran on aircraft or vessels owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line "provided there are reasonable grounds to believe" that prohibited goods are being transported.
The draft resolution calls for a report from IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei in 90 days on Iran's compliance with the council's demands and says the council will suspend sanctions for as long as Tehran suspends enrichment and reprocessing activities. But the draft also says it will consider added measures if Tehran fails to comply.