Iranian Anti-Sanctions Drive Meets U.S. Resistance

(Apr. 27) -Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, meets with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, left, today in Tehran. Washington believes the U.N. Security Council would endorse additional sanctions against Iran, but the Middle Eastern state has encouraged Brazil and other members of the body to oppose new penalties (Atta Kenare/Getty Images).
(Apr. 27) -Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, meets with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, left, today in Tehran. Washington believes the U.N. Security Council would endorse additional sanctions against Iran, but the Middle Eastern state has encouraged Brazil and other members of the body to oppose new penalties (Atta Kenare/Getty Images).

The Obama administration yesterday indicated it would maintain its push for the quick adoption of a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution over Iran's disputed nuclear activities, even as Tehran has worked to rally opposition to the proposed penalties among the council's 15 member nations, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 26).

"We are actually engaged in New York in a variety of different groupings ... to reach a conclusion on the particulars of a resolution," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. "And we want to get this done as soon as possible."

Washington and its allies have long expressed skepticism toward Iran's insistence that its atomic work is strictly peaceful. They have urged Tehran to increase the transparency of its nuclear program and halt efforts that could yield nuclear-weapon material as well as civilian reactor fuel.

The United States is optimistic that Iran's bid to sow dissent over new sanctions among Security Council members such as Brazil and Turkey would not succeed, one high-level State Department official said. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has countered Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's argument in Uganda against new penalties, the official noted, referring to another nonpermanent Security Council member.

"Iran is going around the world trying to evade responsibility ... but I think we are confident that the UN Security Council will put forth a resolution," the official said. "Countries are very conscious of Iran's failure to live up to its obligations. No one wants to see the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] undercut" (Agence France-Presse I/Spacewar.com, April 26).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev criticized Iran's nuclear conduct in an interview made public yesterday, AFP reported.

"As of yet Iran is not demonstrating the required restraint and is behaving quite irresponsibly. This, of course, is a sad fact," Medvedev said, according to a Kremlin transcript of his remarks.

"Therefore, if this situation continues, we cannot rule anything out, including sanctions," he said. “Of course, sanctions are a bad thing because they rarely produce results. But when all other means have been exhausted, why not?” (Agence France-Presse II/Khaleej Times, April 27)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to discuss the nuclear dispute with Chinese President Hu Jintao and top lawmaker Wu Bangguo during a trip to China set to begin tomorrow. Beijing has repeatedly expressed opposition to new Iran penalties (Agence France-Presse III/Spacewar.com, April 26).

Ahmadinejad yesterday denounced the Security Council and the veto authority its five permanent member nations -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- wield over the body's decisions, the Associated Press reported.

"The world community doesn't need atomic bombs ... the Security Council or veto rights. These things are all for suppressing and destroying the nature of mankind and are satanic tools to keep human beings away from culture and morality," state media quoted the Iranian president as saying.

Meanwhile, a former Iranian official provided the nation's first open confirmation that it acquired its initial uranium enrichment centrifuge from Pakistan in the 1980s. The Security Council has pressed Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program, which could produce nuclear material for civilian applications as well as weapons (Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press/Google News, April 26).

Brazil's top diplomat today said his country was seeking to prevent the Security Council from adopting new penalties against Tehran, AFP reported.

"We are looking for a way to prevent sanctions against Iran because we think that sanctions are ineffective," Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told Iranian state media during a trip to the Gulf country. "The only thing the sanctions achieve is that they hurt people, especially the lower class of people."

"We want a solution to this impasse. Brazil is interested in having a share in settling Iran's nuclear issue. I heard the explanation from Iranian sides in my long meeting [with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki]. It was constructive," Amorim said.

Brazil currently holds a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council (Agence France-Presse IV/Spacewar.com, April 27).

"The international community should be given guarantees that there will not be violation and diversion (of nuclear technology) towards military aims," Amorim added at a news conference.

The official also encouraged Iran and other countries to reach agreement on a uranium enrichment proposal formulated last October.

Iran has rejected the original U.N. plan, which called for France and Russia to enrich a large portion of the nation's stockpiled uranium for use at a medical research reactor in Tehran. The proposal was aimed at deferring Tehran's ability to fuel a nuclear weapon long enough to more fully address Western concerns about the its potential nuclear bomb-making capability. Iran has offered only to trade stockpiled uranium for pre-enriched medical reactor fuel in a simultaneous exchange within its borders.

"We hope this agreement will take place. This agreement is a major one and creates confidence between Iran and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), but like any other negotiation there should be flexibility on all sides," he said (Agence France-Presse V/Spacewar.com, April 27).

Elsewhere, Tehran indicated it has added 220 million gallons of gasoline to its emergency stocks in preparation for possible measures targeting its ability to import refined oil products. Iran's limited oil refining capability has forced the nation to import more than one-third of its gasoline.

"At the moment the volume of Iran's strategic petrol supplies has increased by over a billion liters," state media quoted Nooreddin Shahnazi-Zadeh, head of National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co., as saying.

"It is impossible to impose such limitations in the current situation," the official said, noting his country would increase its gasoline production from roughly 11.8 million gallons in the current Iranian year to more than 12 million gallons in the next Iranian year (Agence France-Presse VI/Spacewar.com, April 27).

Iran intends to become capable by 2013 of producing all its gasoline, Shahnazi-Zadeh said Friday, according to the nation's Petroenergy Information Network (Petroenergy Information Network release, April 24).

Zimbabwe yesterday refuted news reports that it had agreed to give Iran access to possible uranium deposits in the country, Reuters reported.

"It's not true. No such agreement was signed," Zimbabwean Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube said. "There is no certainty that Zimbabwe has uranium deposits. You first have to prove that there are uranium deposits and that has not been done" (MacDonald Dzirutwe, Reuters, April 26).

Iran is seeking to replenish its shrinking supply of unrefined uranium, Time magazine reported today.

"We know that [the Iranians] are short (of uranium) for a nuclear energy program. ... If you don't have uranium you don't have anything," Institute for Science and International Security head David Albright said.

An Iranian-Zimbabwean uranium agreement "is kind of deal that the U.S. is going to have its sensors on high for," said Cliff Kupchan, an Iran expert with the Washington-based Eurasia Group (Vivienne Walt, Time, April 27).

April 27, 2010
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The Obama administration yesterday indicated it would maintain its push for the quick adoption of a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution over Iran's disputed nuclear activities, even as Tehran has worked to rally opposition to the proposed penalties among the council's 15 member nations, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 26).

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