UNSC Vote on Iran Delayed

A00870801.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- France and Britain have again delayed a UN Security Council vote on a new round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, Western diplomats said.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the vote, which had been expected Saturday, would now take place Monday at the earliest so the sponsors “can get as broad support as possible”.

A UN spokeswoman also said the Security Council would meet to discuss Iran at 11 am (1600 GMT) on Monday.

Diplomats said Britain and France would call a vote on a draft resolution which was finalized on Friday.

The resolution will tighten existing sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on Iran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Iran has already defied two rounds of sanctions and has turned down West’s calls to abandon it uranium enrichment, saying it is entitled to the atomic work as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, including electricity generation for a growing number of population.

Tehran has said the case for a new raft of sanctions lacks any legal basis and that it has no intention to comply with the resolution.

The five permanent council members – the US, Britain, France, China and Russia – and Germany, which is not on the council, agreed in Berlin on Jan 22 on a draft text outlining a third round of sanctions against Tehran.

Negotiations on sanctions have dragged on for over a month, mainly due to resistance from four nonpermanent members of the 15-nation council – South Africa, Libya, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Diplomats say the European co-sponsors of the resolution are not optimistic that the third one will have the support of all 15 council members.

The final version of the text had few changes from the previous version and stressed the key role of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. This was something all four skeptics had wanted.

It also includes language dealing with South Africa’s concerns about a paragraph requiring states to search air and sea vessels with dubious cargo.

It says searches must comply with international sea and aviation treaties and laws.

Diplomats said it was unclear if the amendments would be enough to satisfy Vietnam and South Africa.

It was unclear if the meeting had helped persuade the South Africans to back the resolution, which is co-sponsored by Germany, France and Britain, they said.

Libya’s ambassador, Giadalla Ettalhi, indicated on Monday that he would probably vote against the resolution.

Indonesia’s envoy says he is not convinced more sanctions is a good idea.

On Friday, Iran promised it would not “retreat from its stance under any circumstances”.

“The Iranian nation will have the final victory in the nuclear arena,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a military gathering in Tehran. “No power will be able to obstruct the movement of the Iranian nation.”

The president had previously said no amount of UN sanctions would deter Iran from a peaceful program aimed at mastering technology to make electricity.

“The Western countries are now pushing for another resolution. I tell them do whatever you want,” said Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati, head of Iranian Guardians Council as he addressed Friday prayers in Tehran.

As the crowd chanted “nuclear energy is our definite right” and “down with America,” Jannati said developing Iran’s nuclear program was “our legal right and we will not give it up.”

He emphasized that the only limit in Iran’s nuclear work would be making atomic weapons.

“In the nuclear program, the redline for us is producing atomic weapons,” he said.

Ayatollah Jannati said, “Americans should be embarrassed with taking Iran’s nuclear case to the Security Council,” referring to an IAEA report released last Friday.

The IAEA report stated that suspicions about most past Iranian nuclear activities had eased or been laid to rest – a point stressed by the Libyan and Indonesian envoys.

Iran insists its enrichment activities are intended only to produce fuel for nuclear energy to generate electricity.

South Africa said on Thursday that the IAEA report showed “increasing confidence” that Iran did not intend to use its nuclear program for military purposes.

In a conference call with reporters in Pretoria, South Africa’s ambassador to the IAEA said the agency’s report last week showed that Iran was cooperating on the matter and did not appear to have militarized its nuclear program.

“There is increasing confidence in the Iranian (enrichment) program,” Abdul Minty said in a call from Oslo. “They (IAEA) have not found a single item that has been lost or diverted to military operations.”

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