UN Security Council to vote on Iran sanctions text Saturday


United Nations : The co-sponsors of a draft resolution in the Security Council that would impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear defiance have decided to put it to a vote Saturday amid signs from other council members that the vote will not be unanimous this time.

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British envoy John Sawers told reporters following a council closed-door session late Thursday “there was very broad support for the resolution … Had we put the resolution today, it would clearly have passed. But we want to have as much support as possible.”

He said one delegation suggested some “small amendments that we are reflecting upon. Another delegation is considering whether to meet with us tomorrow morning to address any concern it might have.”

“We’ve made clear that we are prepared to go the extra mile … we plan to remain open to further consultations Friday morning and our intention is to put the resolution in blue Friday and to vote on it as soon as possible thereafter, probably on Saturday,” he announced.

Libya, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam have reservations regarding the draft and said they would not, at this point, join the consensus in the council.

A Libyan diplomat said that “definitely there won’t be a consensus,” suggesting the four council members will abstain, but the contacts with the four capitals may convince at least two to change their minds and join the consensus. “Libya is not one of the two.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in South Africa trying to convince his counterpart Thabo Mbeke to join the consensus in the council. Other contacts by the US and Britain are being made with the other three capitals.

Asked whether the fact that the resolution will not be adopted unanimously will make it any weaker, Sawers said, “If it passes, it is legally binding on all member states, including Iran. The wider the base of support the clearer the political signal and that’s why we are going the extra mile to see if other council members are prepared to join the emerging common ground that we have in favour to the resolution.”

He noted that the previous resolutions 1737 and 1747, which were adopted unanimously, are having an effect on the attitudes of some of the political leaders in Iran.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters he agreed with the co-sponsors — Britain and France — to put the draft resolution in blue Friday and to vote on Saturday.

He said, “We did not hear no from anybody today but some states still have to consult back home. Some states have expressed some issues that are being addressed.”

Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters that simultaneously with the adoption of the draft resolution on Saturday, a ministerial statement will be issued by the P5 plus Germany stressing their continued efforts towards a diplomatic and political solution of this matter.

He called on Iran “to heed the request of the international community for suspension of uranium enrichment … Unfortunately, this is not the case. So this is the stumbling block which it makes inevitable that the council is currently considering this resolution.”

He expressed hope that this resolution will eventually be part of the solution of the problem.

Indonesia’s envoy Marty Natalegawa told reporters, “We are yet to be convinced that more sanctions are actually the most reasonable way to go at this time. We acknowledge the cooperation between Iran and IAEA and we genuinely and honestly feel that more sanctions may not be the most appropriate way to go at this stage.”

He said that “we are familiar that there are two tracks in operation — the dialogue and the sanctions — but these tracks are supposed to be going in the dame direction. We don’t want to see a situation where the two tracks are cancelling one another out.”

Nevertheless, he added, there is plenty of time from now until Saturday for “developments to occur.”

He said the co-sponsors kept telling the four nations that the additional steps in the new draft resolution are only incremental, minor, symbolic, messages. “If that is the case, then why are we risking the council unity for steps that are only minor and symbolic,” he said.

“As we understand the situation at this time, we have reservations about whether more sanctions would actually help build confidence or take away confidence. We know for sure if we have more sanctions, the Iranians will not comply and then what next? We must think beyond Saturday,” he argued.

He stressed that Iran “must comply with 1747, but in as far as more sanctions are concerned, at this juncture, we have problems with the idea.” The new council draft calls for a total travel ban by officials involved in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes and for inspection of shipments by air or sea to and from Iran if they are carrying suspicious goods.

Attached to the draft are three annexes listing additional nam