US gathers allies for Iran sanctions

Exclusive: US preparing for possible Security Council failure.

ahmadinejad 88 (photo credit: )
ahmadinejad 88
(photo credit: )
The US is preparing for the possibility that it will have to deal with Iran's nuclear program without the assistance of the UN Security Council. In the past weeks the administration has been working with European and Japanese allies on a "menu" of sanctions that could be imposed on Iran even if the issue is not referred to the UN Security Council. According to well-placed sources in Washington, the sanctions being discussed are focused on trade issues, since almost half of Iran's trade is with Europe and Japan. The talks on multilateral non-UN sanctions are intended to ensure that the pressure on Iran will not expire even if the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decides in its March 2006 meeting not to refer Iran to the Security Council. The US itself already has Iran under a regime of sanctions deriving from the Iran-Libya Sanction Act, and congress is expected to take on in the next few months proposals of a new sanction bill that will limit even more the possibility of foreign companies to conduct business with Iran. American ties with Iran are also restricted because Iran is on the US list of countries sponsoring terror. The US administration is focusing on the next three months, before the IAEA meeting, in establishing a stable majority that will be in favor of referring Iran to the Security Council. The focus is on Russia, that is still trying to broker a deal with the Iranians, but diplomatic effort is also directed at China, India and South Africa. American officials told their Israeli counterparts recently that the US would take the Iran issue to the UN only if it is sure that the case is "veto proof," meaning that it has assurances from the permanent members in the Security Council not to use their veto power to bloc a resolution against Iran. The American officials also assured the Israelis that the US will not give Iran any security guarantees in return for cooperation on the nuclear issue and that the US believes it is essential to keep the pressure on Iran until it proves full compliance with the demands of the international community.