Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Iran resolution to go to the vote

RUSSIAN CONCESSION A travel ban on people involved in Iran's nuclear program, which the acting US ambassador had called a priority, was dropped in the latest draft


The European sponsors of a resolution to take steps against Iran for its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear activities submitted a freshly revised draft to the UN Security Council on Wednesday evening and called for a vote today.

In a major concession to Russia, the principal dissenter during the months it has taken to settle on the language of the resolution, the final revision eases a travel ban on people involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Instead of directing countries to prevent entry of such people into their territory, it now "calls upon" states to "exercise vigilance" over those who cross their borders.

It also gives greater leeway to a monitoring committee that would be set up under the resolution -- earlier drafts had more limits on how it would determine what people and entities should be listed as suspected participants in nuclear activities and therefore subject to a freeze of their assets.

In addition, the new draft qualifies a freeze on assets of such people and gives countries more time -- 60 days instead of 30 -- to report to the committee on how they are complying with the demands of the resolution.

The major thrust of the resolution is to demand that Iran agrees to immediately end all enrichment of uranium, which can produce fuel for power plants but also for bombs, and cease all its research and development work on the kinds of activities that are aimed at making weapons.

The amendments were added to address complaints from Russia, a country with close economic ties to Iran. Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said the resolution now appeared largely acceptable to his government.

"The travel ban is gone," Churkin said.

"It is addressed in a more creative manner, which is more in line with our original thinking," he said.

Alejandro Wolff, the acting US ambassador to the UN, who on Tuesday had called the ban a US priority, was asked if the new version could still be called a ban.

"Well, under the vigilance, obviously countries can take their decision on whether they are going to allow people to travel into their country or not, so it does not exclude a ban on travel," he said.

Wolff said that the US was still studying the text, which was circulated among the 15 members of the Security Council only at 6pm. Countries were expected to seek guidance from their capitals overnight and present any final suggested changes to the text yesterday.

"We are not necessarily quite there yet," said Emyr Jones Parry, Britain's ambassador to the UN.

"We will vote this resolution Friday morning -- that's what we intend to do," he said.

The resolution bans imports and exports of materials and technology related to uranium enrichment, reprocessing and ballistic missile systems.

An earlier draft extended those restrictions to the light-water reactor that Russia is building in Bushehr, Iran, but -- in another concession -- all mention of the plant was dropped.

Settling on the language of the resolution has taken months of tough negotiating among ambassadors at the UN, periodic meetings in Europe of senior foreign ministry officials of the countries involved and frequent consultations between missions here and their capitals.

The participants have been Germany and the council's five permanent members -- the US, Britain, China, France and Russia.

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