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Terrorism & Security

Iran faces possible U.N. sanctions over nuclear program

The US is pushing stronger action, but others want only mild measures.

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The six powers that met in Washington yesterday are concerned that any dissent on the Security Council would lead Iran to believe it has begun to crack international resolve, officials present at the talks said.

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Libya, a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, has publicly expressed its doubts about supporting the UN resolution, and Western diplomats believe that South Africa, Vietnam, and Indonesia may also dissent, Reuters reports. Minor changes may be made to the final resolution, but milder sanctions seem unlikely at this stage.

The Iranian envoy to the UN has already rejected the proposed sanctions. The ambassador, Mohammad Khazee, said he saw no reason to suspect its uranium enrichment, reports Bloomberg. The proposed UN text calls for countries to monitor financial dealings with Iran, bar the travel of designated officials, and inspect Iranian cargo that might contain banned goods.

The New York Times reports that Mr. Khazee denied that Iranians would be deterred by additional sanctions, saying: "We have learned to live with them." He took aim at the documents supplied to the IAEA by Western sources that appeared to show a warhead that could carry a nuclear device. He said a terrorist group had forged the documents and claimed that those named as involved in the program had no such access, despite the assertions of Western powers.

Asia Times Online says in an editorial that the IAEA has set the bar unreasonably high by effectively asking Iran to prove the absence of its alleged military programs. Academic Kaveh Afrasiabi writes that the US may be using "systematic disinformation" against Iran, as it did over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He argues that the IAEA, which is led by director-general Mohammad ElBaradei, has exceeded its legal mandate.

In an editorial, Israel's daily newspaper Haaretz says UN sanctions won't have much effect on a defiant Iran and that the real question for Israel is the position of the next US president on the Iranian nuclear issue. Israel believes that Iran could obtain a nuclear weapon within the next two years, in contrast to the US intelligence estimate that such a threat is several years away. As long as Iran is developing fissionable material and has missile capability, the threat remains, it argues.

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