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US answer to Iran nuclear swap: Overnight deal on sanctions

A day after Turkey and Brazil announced an Iran nuclear fuel swap, the US says it has secured the support of all five permanent UN Security Council members – including Russia and China – for Iran sanctions.

By Staff writer / May 18, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, left, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, talk in Tehran, Iran, Monday before signing an agreement to ship most of Iran's enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal.

Vahid Salemi/AP


Istanbul, Turkey

In a swift answer to the Iran nuclear fuel deal secured Monday by Turkey and Brazil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that world powers had finalized a package of "strong" new sanctions against Iran.

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After months of diplomatic efforts, the US secured support overnight from Russia and China, removing the possibility that the move would be vetoed by the United Nations Security Council. The draft would be circulated later Tuesday to the full Council, she said.

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran.”

While Clinton said the US acknowledged the “sincere efforts of both Turkey and Brazil to find a solution," she made clear that the US considered Iran to be still in breach of five Security Council resolutions against it.

"We are proceeding to rally the international community on behalf of a strong sanctions resolution that will in our view send an unmistakable message about what is expected from Iran,” Clinton said.

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A rebuff to Turkey

That unmistakable message would also come through as a clear rebuff to Turkey, where just hours before Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had said that the Iran nuclear deal signed yesterday represented “an important psychological threshold” of trust with Iran that should not be undermined by further talk of sanctions.

Seeking to counter the cool reception from the US and Europe to the Turkey-Brazil brokered deal, Mr. Davutoglu said during a press conference in Istanbul on Tuesday that senior US officials including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones had been in “constant contact with us.”