World Powers Agree on Draft Resolution to Sanction Iran Over Nuke Program

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The U.N. Security Council's permanent members and Germany agreed Tuesday on a new draft resolution on sanctions against Iran, strengthening existing measures over the country's refusal to suspend its nuclear program, officials said.

Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Germany, France and Great Britain would submit the draft to the Security Council, for discussion in coming weeks.

"We agreed together today on the contents of such a resolution," he said after meeting his counterparts from the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China.

Officials said that all six in attendance at the two-hour meeting would vote for the resolution.

A European diplomat and a U.S. official, both speaking of condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the resolution would expand existing sanctions. But the European diplomat said it would not feature new economic sanctions.

"It increased the severity of the sanctions and it expands the sanctions in some of the categories," the U.S. official said.

The U.S. official referred specially to travel bans and asset freezes, but said the group agreed not to release the full text of the agreement until it had been distributed to the rest of the Security Council in the coming days.

"This is a swift reminder to the Iranians that they are not in compliance," the U.S. official said.

A U.S. intelligence assessment last month said Iran had stopped active work on a nuclear weapons program in 2003. That appeared to stiffen resistance from veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China to a quick and harsh third round of sanctions over Iran's defiance of demands it suspend uranium enrichment.

Uranium enrichment can be used to produce fuel for either nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. Oil-rich Iran insists it never had a nuclear weapons program and says enrichment is for peaceful purposes only.

Steinmeier said that "we appeal jointly with all urgency to the leadership in Tehran to comply without reservation with the demands of the Security Council" and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Steinmeier stressed that "we jointly stand behind the double approach" that the international community has so far taken of offering Iran incentives to give up enrichment but also demanding that it comply with the international community's demands.

Steinmeier read out a brief statement in the presence of his fellow ministers. The group then left without taking questions.

Earlier Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country opposed the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and promised cooperation with the IAEA.

"Iran's cooperation with the IAEA will help (with) clarifying issues linked to the past of Iran's nuclear activities," Mottaki told reporters during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria. "After clarifying these matters, there will be more opportunities for discussions with the European Union countries on this and other issues."

Earlier in January, IAEA director Mohammed Elbaradei visited Tehran, and Iran agreed to answer all remaining questions over its nuclear activities in the few weeks after that.