Third UN resolution to exert pressure on Iran

Berlin, Jan 23 (DPA) The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany agreed on the contents of a third UN resolution to pressure Iran to abandon aspects of its nuclear programme at a meeting in Berlin.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the announcement at a press conference after the foreign ministers of the six countries met Tuesday.

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“We agreed on the contents of the next Security Council resolution,” Steinmeier said.

“Germany, France and Great Britain are going to submit the draft of such a text to the Security Council,” he said, adding that the council would then discuss the matter.

Steinmeier provided no details of the text of the draft and said further discussions would continue. The other foreign ministers present did not speak, and no questions were allowed from the media.

European and US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the new resolution would build on current sanctions but not increase economic pressure on Tehran.

The officials referred to a “moderate sharpening” of the current sanctions regime, including tightening up the asset freeze and imposing travel bans.

Steinmeier said the six were “concerned about Iran’s nuclear activities”, adding that a nuclear-armed Iran “would have dramatic consequences for the Middle East and beyond”.

In Washington, a US State Department spokesman said the Berlin agreement sends a “strong message to Iran” that it must comply with the Security Council’s demands.

“They’re becoming increasingly isolated, and I think this shows that they aren’t able to divide us in our commitment to this effort,” Gonzalo Gallegos said.

The six countries intended to continue to pursue the “dual track” approach, with UN sanctions providing pressure, while they were also offering cooperation if Tehran complied with the demands of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Steinmeier said.

Iran had promised to cooperate with the IAEA, he noted, saying the six hoped that this would occur in the weeks ahead. “We all want a solution to this matter,” Steinmeier said.

Tehran was defiant in the face of the renewed pressure.

“The Iranian nation moves towards realisation of its (nuclear) aims within a legal and legitimate framework and even a new UN resolution would not change this drive,” government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham said Tuesday in the Iranian capital before the meeting began.

Ahead of the meeting, Steinmeier expressed particular pleasure that his Russian and Chinese counterparts were attending, noting that Tehran had sought to exploit perceived differences between the four Western states and Russia and China.

Iran has called for the Security Council to return the dossier on its nuclear programme to the IAEA to avoid “politicising” the issue.

IAEA Secretary General Mohammed ElBaradei met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Jan 12, where the two sides agreed a four-week working plan to resolve outstanding issues.

A US intelligence report published in December found that Tehran had abandoned its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, but that there were still outstanding questions over its uranium enrichment programme, the key point of difference with the IAEA.