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 S Africa jeopardises UN Iran sanctions deal

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The Sameer
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PostSubject: S Africa jeopardises UN Iran sanctions deal   Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:13 am

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/606b8d3e-d655-11db-99b7-000b5df10621.html

South Africa has called for a thorough overhaul of a new Iran sanctions resolution agreed by major UN Security Council powers, throwing their hard-fought deal into disarray.

In a discussion paper of “required amendments”, Pretoria called for all current sanctions against Iran to be suspended for 90 days, “to allow for political negotiations to find a long-term solution” and a “de-escalation of tensions”.


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It also called for the deletion of almost all substantive measures in a new resolution proposed last week on behalf of the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.

That would include the removal of an embargo on arms exports from Iran, restrictions on arms sales to Iran, and calls for no new loans to the country.

Pretoria also wants to delete Bank Sepah, a large Iranian bank, as well as senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards corps officers from a travel restrictions and assets freeze list.

One western Security Council diplomat said the move not only amounted to a rejection of the latest deal, but also undermined the previous resolution 1737, agreed unanimously last year – before South Africa, which currently holds the Security Council chairmanship, was on the council. “I really think they are going too far,” said the diplomat. “They have broken the unity of the Security Council.”

In formal terms, South Africa – as one of the elected 10 Security Council members, with no veto – would not be able to stop a new resolution being agreed.

Of the 15 members, the permanent five have all endorsed the new proposals, and most of the 10 non- permanents would appear likely to agree.

Diplomats say Indonesia may back South Africa, and there are question marks over Qatar. But that would not be enough to form a blocking minority.

On the other hand, the symbolism of South Africa – a leading member of the non-aligned movement – objecting may provide a powerful incentive for the main powers to accede to some of its demands.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad is expected to attend the Security Council meeting, and the resolution’s sponsors are keen for it to deliver a unanimous message. South Africa’s proposals may also give China and Russia an opportunity to re-open elements of last week’s compromise proposal, with which they were unhappy.

The US and Europe wanted a vote early this week, but the process has already been slowed down by South Africa scheduling a first formal negotiating session for Wednesday.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
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