(photo credit: Associated Press)
Members of the UN Security Council and Germany will begin a series of discussions this week aimed at putting together a UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran if it does not adhere to international calls to halt uranium enrichment.
The members of "P5 plus Germany," as the group is referred to, agreed in their talks in London Friday on the need to move forward with sanctions against Iran following Teheran's rejection of demands to halt its nuclear program. At the same time, the group made it clear that the door was open for negotiations if Iran accepts the offer from Europe and the US of economic incentives in return for freezing enrichment.
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the US point man for the issue, said following the London talks that discussions on the new UN resolution would begin on Tuesday or Wednesday. Diplomats in the US said a final version would be presented to the Security Council by the end of the month.
Though the London meeting did not yield agreement on the sanctions to be imposed, sources in Washington said the final language would include a list of sanctions tailored to Iran's nuclear and missile activity.
The US is proposing several "baskets" of sanctions that would deal with specific violations of international treaties by the Iranian regime. One such basket would comprise sanctions for violations of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Another is to address violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by banning all commercial activity related to Iran's nuclear program.
Another part of the sanctions proposal will call for action against individuals directly involved in the nuclear program, both by freezing their bank accounts in international banks and by restricting their international travel.
The sanctions are meant to be imposed gradually, avoiding broad restrictions on Iran's regime or economy. According to diplomatic sources, this approach will help the US convince Russia and China to go ahead with a resolution while leaving room for strengthening the sanctions if Iran continues to reject the UN's demands.
The sources stressed that any resolution would include a waiting period of one month, which would give Iran an opportunity to comply before sanctions were implemented.
The US is also trying to convince moderate Arab countries to support diplomatic action against Iran's nuclear program. In her talks in the region last week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed to leaders of Gulf countries to support the efforts of the US and Europe, to pressure Iran, and to provide backing for international financial institutions that might lose business due to sanctions.