UNITED NATIONS, (AP) -The U.N. Security Council scheduled a vote Saturday on a resolution that would impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, culminating two months of tough negotiations aimed at getting Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment.
It wasn’t clear whether there would be unanimous support, with the votes of Russia, China and Qatar still in question. In a final attempt to win Russian support, key European nations circulated a new text of a U.N. resolution late Friday.
Russia and China, which both have strong commercial ties to Tehran, have pressed for a step-by-step approach to sanctions. By contrast, the United States has pushed for very tough sanctions, with Britain and France taking a slightly softer view.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the changes in the final text “increase the chances of agreement tomorrow.”
“Actually, this is a very nice step forward,” Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s U.N. Mission, told two reporters after the meeting.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said the Europeans “tried to build consensus, but we will have to see by tomorrow morning whether consensus is there.”
The final draft would order all countries to ban the supply of specified materials and technology that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. It would also impose an asset freeze on key companies and individuals in the country’s nuclear and missile programs named on a U.N. list.
Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at the peaceful production of nuclear energy, but the Americans and Europeans suspect Tehran’s ultimate goal is the production of nuclear weapons.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tuesday that possible Security Council sanctions would not stop Iran from pursuing uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or fuel for a nuclear bomb.
The resolution authorizes action under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. It allows the Security Council to impose nonmilitary sanctions such as completely or partially severing diplomatic and economic relations, transportation and communications links.
If Iran fails to comply with the resolution, the draft says the council will adopt “further appropriate measures” under Article 41.
During negotiations, a mandatory travel ban was dropped at Russia’s insistence.
Instead, the draft resolution calls on all states “to exercise vigilance” regarding the entry or transit through their territory of those on a U.N. list that names 12 top Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear and missile programs. It asks the 191 other U.N. member states to notify a Security Council committee that will be created to monitor sanctions when those Iranians show up in their country.
The resolution also says the council will review Iran’s actions in light of a report from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, requested within 60 days, on whether Iran has suspended uranium enrichment and complied with other IAEA demands.
If the IAEA verifies that Iran has suspended enrichment and reprocessing, the resolution says the sanctions will be suspended to allow for negotiations. It says sanctions will be terminated as soon as the IAEA board confirms that Iran has complied with all its obligations.
Before the final text was circulated, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin pressed for amendments to ensure that Moscow can conduct legitimate nuclear activities in Iran.
Russia is building Iran’s first atomic power plant at Bushehr, which is expected to go on line in late 2007. A reference to Bushehr in the original draft was removed earlier — as Russia demanded.
Churkin complained that some organizations suspected of conducting proliferation-sensitive activities had been included on the list subject to financial sanctions “without even proving that is the case, and therefore you cannot do any business with that institution — and that can raise all sorts of issues.”
Jones Parry said the list of 11 organizations and 12 individuals that would be subject to having their assets frozen was not changed.
The six key parties trying to curb Iran’s nuclear program — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — offered Tehran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and committed itself to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program.
With Iran refusing to comply with an Aug. 31 council deadline to stop enrichment, Britain and France circulated a draft sanctions resolution in late October, which has been revised several times since then.
To meet concerns of Russia and China that the original resolution was too broad, it was changed to specify in greater detail exactly what materials and technology would be prohibited from being supplied to Iran and to name those individuals and companies that would be affected.