US readies new Iran sanctions at UN

Measures against Revolutionary Guards, financial firms to be debated.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(photo credit: AP)
LONDON — The Obamaadministration is preparing to circulate proposed tough new sanctionsagainst Iran over its nuclear program as early as this week at theUnited Nations, US officials said Wednesday.

Theproposed measures, which would target elements of the IranianRevolutionary Guards Corps under fresh penalties as well financialinstitutions under existing UN sanctions resolutions, are beingfinalized and prepared for debate in the UN Security Council, theofficials said.

Theofficials spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions on theoutline of the sanctions are still ongoing between the five permanentmembers of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain,China, Russia and France — as well as Germany and other countries.

Theofficials would not predict when a vote might take place, but saidnegotiations on a proposed fourth round of US Security Councilsanctions could begin within weeks.

TheSecurity Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran oversuspicions it is hiding nuclear activities and fears that it couldretool its enrichment program from making low-grade material toproduce nuclear power into producing weapons-grade uranium fornuclear warheads.

USSecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discussed Iran sanctionsWednesday in London with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov andwas due to have a similar conversation with Chinese Foreign MinisterYang Jiechi on Thursday.

Clintonis meeting an array of foreign ministers this week in London, whereshe and her colleagues are attending international conferences onAfghanistan and Yemen, and in Paris on Friday, where she will delivera speech on European security.

Accompanyingher are senior State Department and Treasury Department officialsinvolved in recruiting support for the new measures.

WithRussia, and in particular China, skeptical of any new sanctionsefforts, the Americans have to tread carefully to maintain six-powerunity on how to deal with Iran.

Takingover the Security Council presidency earlier this month, China saidit opposes new sanctions against Iran. Like the US, Russia, Britainand France, China, which relies on Iran for much of its energy needs,is a veto-wielding member of the council.

Clintonsaid she thinks Russia, China and others are coming around to theview that it is time for the Iranian government to face consequencesfor failing to prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

Russiannews services reported after the talks that Lavrov showed somesupport for sanctions on Iran.

"Clearly,we can't wait indefinitely, and our partners are talking about theneed to discuss additional steps in the UN," Lavrov was quotedas saying.

Clintonsaid she was pleased with the responses she was getting, tellingreporters that there was a growing belief in the "internationalcommunity that Iran should face consequences for its defiance ofinternational obligations."

Clintondeclined to talk about the timeline for the presenting the outline.

"Iam not going to preview or pre-empt what we're doing."