'New Iran resolution not harsh'

Lavrov says new UN document calls for countries to be "vigilant" in all trade ties with Teheran.

sergev Lavrov 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
sergev Lavrov 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The new draft UN resolution on Iran over its disputed nuclear program does not call for any harsh sanctions, but encourages other countries to be vigilant, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday. Speaking at a news conference the day after the draft was approved by the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, Lavrov said it "does not foresee any harsh sanctions." "It calls for countries to be vigilant while maintaining trade and economic and transport and other ties with Iran so that they are not used for the transfer of forbidden nuclear material," he said. These terms "will be enforced until the International Atomic Energy Agency's concerns are resolved," Lavrov said, referring to the UN's nuclear monitoring agency. The draft resolution "confirms that in the case of the fulfillment of all conditions contained in the IAEA decisions, the six (countries) will be ready to start work with Iran regarding talks on the entire range of relations including trade and economic relations, security issues and other matters," Lavrov said. Details on the draft's content have been sketchy. After the text was agreed upon during talks in Berlin on Tuesday, US and European diplomats said it bolsters existing sanctions, notably asset freezes and travel bans on Iranian officials. But they disagreed on whether it contains new measures. The draft was presented as a sign of international resolve that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and unity on the need to press the country into suspending uranium enrichment, a process that can produce material needed to make a bomb. Iran says it aims to use the technology only for generating power. But the document, hailed by US officials as a victory for the Bush administration's tough line on Iran, was not released. The US had been pushing for sweeping new sanctions, mirroring unilateral measures it imposed last year on select Iranian banks and elements of Iran's military. But Russia and China, which along with some European nations have significant investments in Iran, had balked. US and European officials said that all participants would vote in favor of the resolution, indicating that the Russians and Chinese may have succeeded in pressing their objections to the wide-ranging sanctions sought by Washington. The ministers had last met in September and agreed to proceed with a new resolution within two months. But after the release of a new US intelligence report in December that determined Iran had halted a nuclear weapons program in 2003, that initiative seemed to have faltered. US officials said Tuesday's agreement was a sign that the National Intelligence Estimate findings, which came as a surprise to many, had not dampened international concern about Iran. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed that all six nations stood behind the two-pronged carrot and stick approach to Iran, which offers Teheran incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment or further sanctions if it refuses.