World’s powers agree on Iranian sanctions
UNITED NATIONS – The world’s major powers agreed Thursday on modest new sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, sending a strong signal that the U.N. Security Council will likely remain united in seeking to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.The proposed new sanctions include a ban Iranian arms exports and financial restrictions against 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in the country’s nuclear and missile programs – about a third linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.The governments of the five veto-wielding permanent council nations – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France – and Germany signed off on the draft resolution and it was then presented to the 10 elected council members.The non-permanent members need time to consider the draft and a vote isn’t expected before late next week, said South Africa’s U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council president.Kumalo said he had received a request for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address the council when it votes on the resolution, but no date has been set.In his first reaction to Thursday’s agreement, Ahmadinejad called the Security Council an “illegitimate” body and said that any new sanctions on his country would only push it to be self-sufficient and further develop nuclear technology.”Today, the Iranian nation fully possesses the nuclear fuel cycle,” Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Ardakan, central Iran, addressing his remarks to Western nations, according to state media. “If all of you gather and also invite your ancestors from hell, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation.”Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said a key objective was to preserve the Security Council’s unity in support of the new resolution.”We would like to see the entire council on board,” he said. “Our goal is to do this as early as possible.”Wolff stressed that the council’s priority was to get Iran to suspend enrichment, a prerequisite “to return to the negotiating table, and dealing with this issue politically.”Iran insists its enrichment program is for the peaceful purpose of producing nuclear energy, but the U.S., European nations and the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog are concerned that its goal is to produce nuclear weapons.In December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose limited sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.It ordered all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs and to freeze assets of 10 key Iranian companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.Iran, however, responded by accelerating its enrichment program.The proposed new measures would freeze the assets of 15 additional individuals and 13 additional organizations and companies, according to a list in the annex to the draft resolution.Seven of the individuals are members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and three of the organizations are affiliated with the elite military corps, which oversees vital Iranian interests, including oil and natural gas installations and the nation’s missile arsenal, according to the annex.Wolff had said the issue of the Revolutionary Guard was one of “the trickiest” in drafting the resolution. Russia had raised concerns that mentioning the elite group would amount to censuring the entire institution, so the proposed annex singles out specific companies and individuals.The list includes the Revolutionary Guard’s Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Morteza; the chief of the joint staff, Vice Adm. Ali Akbar Ahmadian; ground forces commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi and four other top officers.Under the draft, Iran would be banned from supplying, selling or transferring “any arms or related material,” and all countries would be prohibited from buying Iranian weapons.The proposed resolution does not ban Iran from importing arms, but calls on all nations “to exercise vigilance and restraint” in supplying tanks, combat aircraft and other heavy weapons.It also calls on all governments and financial institutions not to make any new commitments “of grants, financial assistance, or concessional loans” to the Iranian government.There is no travel ban, but all countries would be asked to exercise “vigilance and restraint” on the entry or transit through their territory of the individuals whose assets have been frozen. The draft would also require all countries to report the transit or entry of any of these people to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran.The draft resolution “underlines the willingness of the international community to work positively” for a diplomatic solution and encourages Iran “to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA.”As in the December resolution, the draft asks IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to report to the council in 60 days on whether Iran has suspended its enrichment activities.—Associated Press Writer Sarah DiLorenzo contributed to this report from the United Nations
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