WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€ US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that the major world powers have clinched “strong draft” UN sanctions in a response to an Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal.
In a surprise announcement before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Clinton said the draft resolution would be circulated later Tuesday to the 15-member UN Security Council, which includes Brazil and Turkey.
“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Clinton told senators.
Iran agreed on Monday to ship much of its low enriched uranium abroad in a nuclear fuel swap deal backed by Turkey and Brazil, but which the United States and other countries questioned.
Clinton reiterated that Washington had raised “a number of unanswered questions” about the three-country deal, but welcomed what she called the “sincere efforts of both Turkey and Brazil.”
For Washington, the core issue was that Iran, despite sealing the deal, intended to continuing enriching uranium.
Clinton said the United States and its partners “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.”
Those partners form the P5-plus-1, or the permanent five members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — plus Germany.
China had long shown particular resistance toward new sanctions against Iran, and Russia had only recently expressed an openness toward such punitive measures.
Clinton said the deal for new sanctions came after hard work.
She said the United States had been working for weeks with China and Russia powers “on the draft of a new sanctions resolution on Iran, and today I am pleased to announce to this committee we have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China.”
The agreement Clinton announced here came all the more as a surprise as both Russia and China seemed to show a measure of support for the Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal.
China said Tuesday it supported Iran’s agreement to ship low enriched uranium to Turkey,
adding that it hoped the deal would lead to a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear impasse.
Iran on Monday signed an agreement with Turkey and Brazil to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its low enriched uranium to Turkey in return for higher grade fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Western powers fear that Iran’s atomic program is a cover for a nuclear weapons drive. Tehran denies this, saying the program is aimed at peaceful energy use, which it insists it has the right to pursue.
Iran, already subject to three sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, vowed to press on with the controversial work even after Monday’s agreement.