WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says major world powers have reached a draft resolution on sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear program.
Clinton told a Senate subcommittee that after months of intensive negotiation, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, China, France, and Russia -- along with Germany (called the P5+1) had agreed on the wording of a draft resolution and were moving forward with the sanctions process.
"We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China. We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today," Clinton said.
The announcement comes one day after Iran announced that it had agreed to a nuclear-fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil, which the White House said didn't satisfy the international community's demand for transparency and accountability by Tehran.
The deal echoes one proposed last year by the P5+1 negotiating group, which Tehran at first agreed to and then rejected. But the Turkey-Brazil deal was negotiated outside the realm of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which raised Western suspicion.
Tehran is suspected of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program, which it denies.
Clinton told the panel of lawmakers that although the removal of a significant portion of low-enriched uranium from Iran would be "a positive step," the United States and its partners were "seriously concerned by a number of issues that were missing from the declaration."
In addition, Tehran announced on May 17 that it would continue its domestic nuclear-enrichment program, which produces uranium enriched to 20 percent.
Clinton called that a "clear violation of its international obligations" and noted that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on May 17 that he shared U.S. concerns about Iran's enrichment program.
She said that "it is not sufficient for Iran to stand at a press conference and make a declaration," and questioned the timing of the announcement.
"We don't believe it was any accident that Iran agreed to this declaration as we were preparing to move forward in New York" at the United Nations, Clinton said.
"With all due respect to my Turkish and Brazilian friends, the fact that we had Russia on board, that we had China on board, and that we were moving early this week -- namely today -- to share the text of that resolution, put pressure on Iran which they were trying to somehow dissipate."
Agreeing On Sanctions
The White House has spent more than a year trying to persuade world leaders that Iran's defiance of its international obligations under nonproliferation agreements justifies a new round of tough sanctions by the United Nations.
Russia and China -- both of whom have major economic ties with Iran -- have long opposed sanctions but in recent months indicated that they would be willing to support measures to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power.
Clinton said Beijing and Moscow's agreement on the wording of the draft resolution was the result of intense negotiations.
"I think there is no doubt that our cooperation and the intensive efforts that so many of us, along with our Russian counterparts, put in to the START negotiations over the last year is part of the reason why we plan to circulate a draft resolution to the entire Security Council today that includes Russia and China and their agreement on the wording of the text," she said.
In short, Clinton said nothing had changed. "The United States remain[s] committed to moving forward with the process in the United Nations," she said, "to get as strong a possible resolution as soon as we can."
written by Heather Maher