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Report: US inches closer to Iran sanctions

Wall Street Journal says five permanent Security Council members, Germany within striking distance of agreement to penalize Islamic Republic over its nuclear program. Clinton: We'll get serious response from Iran only after Security Council acts

WASHINGTON - US officials are quietly confident they are within striking distance of a long-sought agreement to impose new international economic sanctions on Iran following a phone conversation on Thursday between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.


According to the report, the officials believe they are near a meeting of the minds with the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—Russia, China, Britain and France—and with Germany on a new set of sanctions to penalize Iran for its nuclear program.


The new set of sanctions will be presented in the coming days to the non-permanent Security Council members, who do not have veto power.


The WSJ noted that Iran was likely to make a last-minute play this weekend, via Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to head off a UN sanctions resolution.


Brazil – like Turkey and Lebanon – is a non-permanent member of the Council and does not support the sanctions, but Russian and Chinese support would guarantee a majority of nine out of 15 members and will allow the sanctions' approval.


The Security Council's non-permanent members have yet to see the draft discussed in close meetings held by the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China over the past few weeks.


The improving relations between Washington and Beijing, after weeks of tensions over the US decision to arm Taiwan with new weapons and the Dalai Lama's invitation to the White House, are likely to guarantee China's support for a sanctions resolution.


The Americans are trying to soften the other countries opposing the sanctions, prompting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to telephone her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday.


Clinton clarified the American stand that Iran's latest diplomatic moves were aimed at blocking the sanctions without a commitment to abandon the nuclear program. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose country serves as the current Security Council president, has also been invited to the White House.


Clinton: Iran still won't discuss nuclear plan

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Thursday that negotiations on a US-drafted resolution that would impose new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend its nuclear enrichment program were making "good progress."


Rice told reporters that the six nations trying to hammer out a new resolution have been working intensively in capitals and at the United Nations. She said the six countries met Wednesday and diplomats said another meeting was expected this week.


Rice said the Brazilian president's visit to Tehran "is not impeding progress" by the six countries in reaching agreement on a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.


She said progress the six powers are making will perhaps strengthen Silva's hand as he hopefully delivers a message to the Iranians "that pressure will intensify" unless they suspend enrichment and start negotiations on their suspect nuclear program.


Clinton said on Friday that Iran still refuses to discuss its nuclear program with the international community and is unlikely to do so until the United Nations imposes new sanctions on the Islamic republic.


"I have told my counterparts in many capitals around the world that I believe that we will not get any serious response out of the Iranians until after the Security Council acts," Clinton told reporters after a meeting with new British Foreign Secretary William Hague.


The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.10, 22:20
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