08/07/2008, 00.00
IRAN – UNITED NATIONS
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IAEA deputy director general in Tehran, UN discusses new sanctions

Views within the Security Council are not unanimous. West wants tough stance and new sanctions; Russia has a nuanced position; China is silent.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Olli Heinonen, arrived in Tehran today to provide clarification about the offer made by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—Russia, China, the US, Britain and France—plus Germany, the so-called 5+1 group, in exchange for the suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. Heinonen’s visit comes at a time when informal discussions are underway about new sanctions against Iran.

Views within the Security Council are not however unanimous. Despite its recent openness towards Iran’s clerical regime, the United States is resolute on sanctions.

“In the absence of a positive response to the generous offer that we provided for our incentives package, we think that the allies will have no choice but to take further measures that would be punitive,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

London and Paris have expressed similar views.

“Iran has a clear choice: engagement or isolation. We regret that Iran's leaders appear to have chosen isolation,” said British junior Foreign Minister Kim Howells.

For Europe’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, Iran’s written response (one page letter) appears to be a way to gain time.

China is silent for now but Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, has taken a more nuanced approach.

“To the best of my knowledge there has been no firm agreement or understanding or concerted work in this regard,” he said.

According to Churkin, the discussion could go to the General Assembly which is scheduled to meet on 23 September till 1 October.

In Tehran government sources continue to talk about clear answers from both sides.

Finally Arab observers point out that the threat of sanctions coincided with Iran’s announcement that it test fired a new missile which is said to be capable of targeting an enemy vessel within a range of 300 kilometres, which is more than sufficient to close down the ‘oil gate’, i.e. the Strait of Hormuz.

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