The US has backed away from pursuing a number of tough measures against Iran over its nuclear program in order to garner Russia and China's support for a new United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The newspaper quoted a number of sources who are familiar with the issue as saying that among provisions removed from the original draft resolution the US relayed to key allies in February were sanctions aimed at blocking Tehran's access to international banking services and capital markets, and closing international airspace and waters to Iran's national air cargo and shipping lines.
While Tehran claims its nuclear activities are peaceful, the international community fears it is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
The sources were quoted by the Wall Street Journal report as saying that Britain and Germany, concerned that Russia and China would reject the resolution outright and preferring to turn up pressure on Iran gradually, convinced Obama Administration officials to drop or soften several elements, including some of the document's harshest provisions.
US officials told the Wall Street Journal that the Obama Administration is seeking the toughest measures possible against Tehran while maintaining unity among the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, which are drafting the sanctions.
"We are seeking an appropriate resolution that puts significant pressure on the government," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was quoted by the newspaper as saying Wednesday. "We continue to consult with various countries, and it's our desire to maintain unanimity. It will be a strong united statement that Iran will have to pay attention to."