Clinton: Iran sanctions months away

Comes after PM gets strong backing on energy penalties from visiting Sen. Kerry.

Hillary Clinton 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Hillary Clinton 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The United States is working "expeditiously and thoroughly" to win newinternational penalties on Iran over its disputed nuclear program, USSecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday night.
Clintontold reporters traveling with her in South America that a new sanctionsresolution is likely to come before the United Nations Security Councilsometime in the next several months.
That's far later than theUnited States once hoped for, in part because of reluctance among someother members of the Security Council.
Clinton is recruitingsupport for the Iran penalties. She said she would make sure that thepresident of Brazil, which has close ties to Iran, knows the extent ofworld alarm over Iran's activities.
Earlier Monday, PrimeMinister Binyamin Netanyahu, who for the last two weeks has loudly beencalling for sanctions on Iran’s energy sector, received strong backingwhen visiting US Sen. John Kerry supported the move.
Kerry, thepowerful head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said he“absolutely” supported sanctions against Iran’s energy industry.
“Ibelieve that the most biting and important sanctions would be those onthe energy side,” Kerry told a press conference, after meetingNetanyahu.
The senator said there were other sanctions thatshould be considered, such as financial ones, but he thought that thoseagainst the energy sector were “of particular importance.”
Inthe past two weeks, Netanyahu has been continuously calling forsanctions against Iran’s export of oil and import of refined petroleumproducts, saying that anything less would be ineffective. Up untilKerry’s comments, the prime minister’s call had not been echoed byanyone.
Last week, Russia said it opposed paralyzing sanctionson Iran’s energy sector, and although Clinton called for “cripplingsanctions” a few weeks ago, this has never defined.
Kerry saidthere was “no one in the US Congress not deeply concerned about thesteps Iran is taking, not just with respect to the nuclear enrichmentprogram, but also with respect to its relationship with other countriesin the region.
“We are deeply concerned and talks are ongoingwith allies, the Quartet, China and obviously at the UN, to pressforward with sanctions if there is not a change in behavior.”
Kerrysaid those sanctions should be “rigorous, biting, real, multilateraland need to be imposed with the intent of allowing the Iranians tobegin to understand what its choices are.”
Kerry said thatTeheran would make a “great mistake if they shortchange, misunderstandor misinterpret the full intent of this administration or Congress tohold their behavior accountable.”
The senator said that while a nuclear Iran poses a direct threat to Israel and the region, the issue is much larger than that.
“Allof us who want a world with less nuclear threat know one thing forcertain: the road to that safer world does not lead through a nuclearTeheran,” he said.
Kerry said that if the UN does not approve sanctions, the US and “a number of powerful allies will move on their own.”
Askedby xxThe Jerusalem Post whether he was concerned Israel would takeunilateral actions or whether he had relayed that concern to the primeminister, Kerry said Israel and the US were “talking from the same page.
“Ithink he is very tuned in to not being rash, or jumping the gun here,or doing something that doesn’t give these other opportunities [to stopIran’s nuclear development] a chance,” Kerry said of Netanyahu.
Referringto a parade of visits by high-ranking US officials to Jerusalem inrecent weeks,  which will culminate next week with the scheduledarrival of US Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry said one of the reasonsfor the quantity of the dialogue “is to make sure we are all on thesame page, that we are all clear about what time frames may exist, ormay not exist, what threat levels may be real or not real, or whatoptions may be on the table for us. I think we are on the same page.”
Kerrysaid he found Netanyahu “tremendously supportive of the initiatives weare taking right now, and that other countries are taking, and veryhopeful they will have an impact. I think he is very much speaking fromthe same page as the rest of us.”
On other issues, Kerry said hehoped the present tension in the West Bank over the inclusion ofRachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in a list of heritagesites to be preserved was just a “rough moment, a hiccup” that could beovercome on the way to renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Kerrysaid that access to the sites – which he said were important to Jewishand Muslim understanding of their “history, culture and religions” –was shared.
Saying that he thought what Netanyahu did in placingthe tombs on the list of heritage sites was “understandable” within thecontext of trying to “preserve and renew” the Jewish components of thesites, Kerry added that “the timing and manner of the announcementneeds to be taken into account in the future context of trying to movepeople to dialogue.”
Kerry said that the move “certainly lendsitself to misinterpretation without adequate explanation, and I thinkthere is an explanation, and I think you have to be careful with thesethings. My caution as we go forward is we have to be thoughtful abouteverything we say and do, so that we keep a dialogue on track.”
Regardingthat dialogue, Kerry, after meeting Netanyahu on Monday and PalestinianAuthority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in Amman, said he was“convinced that there is a willingness in both governments to try tomove forward in respect to dialogue.”
Kerry said that he was hopeful that over the next weeks and months“the process can reach a critical point where it is possible for ouradministration in Washington and the government here to announcesomething positive.”
He gave no details or timetable.
Meanwhile,the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statementMonday calling the decision to include Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb ofthe Patriarchs on the list of heritage sites as “detrimental toattempts to re-launch peace negotiations.
“The European Unioncalls on Israel to refrain from provocative acts. The European Unionrecognizes the importance of these religious sites to all threeAbrahamic faiths and supports the principle of access for all.”