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Renewed impetus to sanction Iran

Security Council members, plus Germany, agree Tuesday on the outline of a third UN resolution.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / January 24, 2008

Berlin meeting: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other foreign ministers agreed Tuesday on the points of a third resolution sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of uranium enrichment.

Michael Sohn/AP

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Washington

International powers have agreed on the outline of a third United Nations resolution sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of uranium enrichment – a sign that, despite disagreements on details, the international community is united in opposition to Iran possessing a nuclear weapon.

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A recent American intelligence report, concluding that Iran stopped a nuclear weapons development program in 2003, appears to have actually opened the door to additional international economic measures against Tehran.

December's National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, initially confused US allies, who saw the report as undercutting multilateral efforts to pressure Iran. But this week's agreement on the terms of a new resolution suggests that the NIE also deflated widespread concerns that the United States was heading toward unilateral military action against Iran's nuclear sites. With concerns waning that the US would use additional UN measures as a pretext for such action, some diplomats say, the path to a new resolution was cleared.

Official response in Tehran to the international action was swift, with officials saying Iran would not be deterred in its nuclear pursuits – including uranium enrichment, which can be a steppingstone to building a nuclear weapon.

"The Iranian nation has chosen its path and will continue with it," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA. "Such illegal behavior [by the international community] will not divert the Iranian nation from its path."

The five members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, reached the agreement Tuesday at a meeting in Berlin of foreign ministers that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The new resolution is not expected to significantly toughen economic sanctions already approved in the first two resolutions.

Expected measures include a travel ban on some key Iranian individuals, limits on businesses and military branches involved in certain nuclear activities, and the monitoring of banks and other institutions implicated in Iran's nuclear program.

The resolution is considerably weaker than what the US and allies, including France and Britain, had sought in recent months. But some ambitious monitoring by international powers would actually be new and could build up the kind of pressure that Iran has shown it does not like, some experts say.

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