Key Nations Split Over Iran Sanctions


Richard Moore

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    Key Nations Split Over Iran Sanctions
    By Edith M. Lederer
    The Associated Press
    Monday 12 March 2007

The world's most powerful nations failed to agree on new sanctions against Iran 
amid reports that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to put Tehran's case for a
nuclear program before the U.N. Security Council.

The surprise announcement about Ahmadinejad's intention to fly to New York came 
in the throes of intense debate Sunday among the five veto-wielding permanent 
council members - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France - and Germany on 
additional measures to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, whose country holds the rotating
Security Council presidency, said Ahmadinejad had not made a formal request to 
address the U.N.'s most powerful body, but if he did, "it would be very 
difficult to deny him that opportunity."

Kumalo said he would "be open to consulting" with the other council members on 
scheduling Ahmadinejad's appearance. "I would be surprised if they said they 
don't want to hear him," he told The Associated Press.

Whether an appearance before the Security Council by Ahmadinejad would affect 
the contents or vote on a new U.N. resolution remains to be seen.

Iranian TV on Sunday quoted government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham as saying 
Ahmadinejad "intends to attend a U.N. Security Council meeting to be held on 
Iran's nuclear case in order to defend the rights of the Iranian nation in 
exploiting peaceful nuclear energy."

The announcement came hours before ambassadors of the six key nations met for 
the fifth time in a week to discuss what additional sanctions to include in a 
new resolution.

In December, the Security Council imposed limited sanctions against Iran for its
refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. 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.

The council warned it would adopt further nonmilitary sanctions if Iran refused 
to comply.

Iran not only refused to suspend its enrichment program but expanded it. So the 
six key nations that have been trying to rein in Iran's nuclear program started 
discussing possible new sanctions including a travel ban, an arms embargo, trade
restrictions, and an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset 

After Sunday's 1 1/2-hour meeting at Britain's U.N. Mission, however, it was 
clear that the key players remain divided. The U.S. and Europe want tougher 
sanctions than Russia and China, which both have strong business ties with Iran,
are prepared to accept.

China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said the basic positions of the six 
countries remained the same "so I feel now it's up to our capitals to have one 
more round of exercises before we can meet again."

He said it would take "at least a couple of days" before the permanent members 
come up with a draft resolution to circulate to the 10 nonpermanent council 
members. The full council would then need time to consider the draft before it 
was put to a vote.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said negotiations were "moving slowly, 
back and forth." Asked whether the six were any closer to agreement, he said, 
"Maybe a little bit, a little bit - but very, very gradual."

Acting U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Sunday's session "was a difficult 

"As always, when you get down to the last bits of agreement, the discussions 
harden a bit," he said. "We had a session today that showed that there were 
still some firm views on all sides ... I am hopeful still that we can overcome 
these remaining differences."

France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the negotiations "are 
moving in the right direction."

"We are not yet there but ... I expect, I hope that we will be able to have this
resolution adopted next week," he said.

China has resisted proposed cutbacks on loan guarantees for companies doing 
business in Iran, a measure strongly supported by the United States.

There has been less friction over a proposal to ban Iran from exporting arms, 
although China wants the banned weapons to be specifically defined.

As for Ahmadinejad, the Security Council would have to consider any request for 
him to speak, but approval seems likely.

"I think that any member can have the right to come to the council if they 
wish," said China's Wang who then added with a laugh: "It will be fun if he 
comes - especially in connection with the adoption of this resolution!"

Wolff, the U.S. ambassador, said he had only seen news reports and would wait 
for a formal request to the council.

"I've not seen any request for a visa," he said. "I've not seen anything 
concrete, so I don't know what to make of it."


Associated Press Writer Alexandra Olson contributed to this report from New 

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