TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has urged world powers against using the “language of threats” over its nuclear programme as UN Security Council diplomats prepared to draft a resolution proposing sanctions against Tehran.
In a meeting late on Friday, representatives from the five permanent US Security Council members plus Germany agreed to discuss sanctions against Tehran after it failed to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment operations.
Senior US official Nicholas Burns said the so-called “5+1” group would start drafting this week a sanctions resolution, although he admitted finding a consensus on the extent of punitive measures would be difficult.
“I recommend to the 5+1 group not to talk to Iran with the language of threat and sanction,” retorted Iran’s conservative parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel Sunday.
He reaffirmed that Iran was ready to negotiate over its nuclear programme and said talks between the top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had been fruitful for both sides.
“Though both sides have expressed satisfaction, some comments made in 5+1 meeting smell of threats and sanctions.”
“We are ready to continue negotiations since our comments are sensible and we do not want to violate international and International Atomic Energy Agency regulations.”
“If with all our talks, they still talk about threats and sanctions, then it becomes evident that our nuclear issue is only a pretext for some powers like the United States to put pressure on our nation.”
However the momentum towards imposing some kind of UN sanctions regime on Tehran appears strong after the London meeting, which included US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top diplomats from the five other countries.
In a statement issued by host Britain, the group agreed to discuss sanctions and lamented Tehran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, but insisted that the door remains open to negotiations if Tehran were to back down.
Burns, the US under secretary of state for political affairs, said that work on a new Security Council resolution under Article 41 of the UN charter, which allows for diplomatic and economic sanctions, would start next week.
It would probably kick off Tuesday or Wednesday with a video conference involving him and his five counterparts before it is pursued a day later at the level of the ambassadors at the United Nations of the six powers, he added.
“I am quite confident that we are now heading towards a sanctions resolution,” Burns told BBC radio on Saturday.
“There will be tough negotiations ahead to define the specific nature of those sanctions. This is always a complex business.”
It remains to be seen what kind of sanctions regime will be acceptable to Russia and China, who have both always insisted on the importance of a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Iran’s insistence on its right to enrich uranium lies at the heart of the crisis. The process can be used to make nuclear fuel and, in highly enriched form, the explosive core of an atomic bomb.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful energy needs, vehemently rejecting US allegations that it is seeking to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Rice has said the United States wants a graduated series of sanctions, to be implemented through multiple UN resolutions that would ramp up pressure on Iran if it persists with its nuclear work.
The first set of measures is expected to focus on preventing the supply of material and funding for Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes.
Other steps could include asset freezes and travel bans on officials linked to possible Iranian weapons programmes.