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Six powers to discuss new round of Iran sanctions


Latest update : 2009-09-24

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says Russia and China might agree to a new round of sanctions on Iran when they meet with France, Britain, Germany, and the United States in Geneva next month to discuss Tehran’s nuclear programme.

REUTERS - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Tuesday he did not expect Russia and China would oppose Western powers if they call for new sanctions on Iran for refusing to freeze its nuclear program.


“I don’t think that the Russians and Chinese will say ... never again,” Solana told reporters when asked about the possibility of a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran for defying U.N. demands that it stop enriching uranium.


“There’s not going to be a breaking of the group,” he said.


Solana will be joining the foreign ministers from Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Russia and China in New York on Wednesday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.


Solana said he did not expect Wednesday’s meeting of the six powers on Iran to result in any major decisions. He said he and the six foreign ministers would discuss the group’s forthcoming meeting with Iran in Geneva on Oct. 1.


Until recently Moscow had appeared to categorically reject new sanctions against Tehran. But a member of Russia’s delegation to the U.N. General Assembly indicated Solana’s assessment of Moscow’s position on the possibility of imposing new U.N. sanctions on Tehran was accurate.


“This is our general attitude towards the situation both in Iran and North Korea,” the Russian delegate, who declined to be identified, told reporters. But the delegate said “it is premature to be speaking about particular positions.”


Last week Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he would not rule out new sanctions against Tehran. The Russian delegate referred to Medvedev’s words, saying Medvedev had made clear that “in certain situations sanctions can be a solution.”


The West suspects the Islamic Republic is developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.


Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity and has defied five Security Council resolutions demanding that it suspend all sensitive nuclear activities.


Delaying tactics?


Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband at the United Nations on Tuesday. Mottaki told reporters afterward the Western powers knew that sanctions were a “failed policy.”


“If they would like to taste once again the failed policies, that is up to them,” he said. “We can’t prevent them from (taking) any new decisions.”


The six powers had their first and last direct meeting with an Iranian delegation in July 2008. A U.S. official was at that meeting, even though Washington severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in 1980 during a hostage crisis.


That meeting represented a major policy shift for the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, which was reluctant to talk with representatives of what Bush once called the “axis of evil”—Iran, North Korea and prewar Iraq.


President Barack Obama has said he was willing to engage Iran’s leadership. The new U.S. point man on Iran, William Burns, will be attending the Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva.


Diplomats from the four Western powers have said that a recent letter from Iran to the six, which Tehran described as a counterproposal to the six powers’ offer of economic and political incentives in exchange for suspending enrichment, contained nothing that would resolve the nuclear standoff.


They said it appeared to be an attempt by Tehran to slow down the Western push for a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would impose new, tougher sanctions on Iran. The four Western powers have called for targeting Iran’s energy sector, although Russia and China reacted coolly to the idea.


Moscow and Beijing supported three rounds of U.N. travel bans and asset freezes aimed at Iran’s nuclear and missile industries. But they worked hard during negotiations on the wording of the sanctions resolutions to soften the measures.


The Russian delegate denied there was any quid pro quo agreement regarding Obama’s decision last week to scrap plans for a U.S. missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic that had angered Moscow.


Asked whether he worried the Russians and Americans had made a deal to scrap the missile shield in exchange for Moscow’s support for further sanctions, Mottaki said: “We welcome the reduction of weapons between the two powers.”

Date created : 2009-09-23