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Major powers struggle over extent of Iran sanctions

Published March 8, 2007


UNITED NATIONS - The world's major powers are struggling to reach agreement on new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment with the United States and Europe pushing for tougher measures than Russia and China will accept, council diplomats said Wednesday.

The list of possible sanctions under discussion include a travel ban, an expanded list of people and companies subject to an asset freeze, an arms embargo and trade restrictions, the diplomats said.

Senior diplomats from the five permanent Security Council nations - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - and Germany had been scheduled to hold talks Wednesday to try to resolve the differences, but their conference call was delayed until today, the diplomats said.

On Wednesday, political directors from the three European nations who have led negotiations trying to rein in Iran's nuclear program discussed the issue with officials from the European Union secretariat, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.

At two meetings this week, Security Council ambassadors from the six countries failed to make headway on what sanctions to include in a new U.N. resolution so they sent the problem back to the political directors.

China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya, whose country has close ties to Iran, said after Tuesday's council meeting that there were different views on curbing loan guarantees for companies doing business in Iran.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the U.S. official involved in previous conference calls, told a House hearing on Tuesday that some nations, notably France, Germany and Japan, had already capped or agreed to reduce credits to Iran under U.S. pressure.

The Security Council imposed sanctions Dec. 23 over Iran's refusal to freeze all its enrichment-related activities.

[Last modified March 8, 2007, 02:06:39]

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