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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 22:43 GMT
Iran sanctions go to UN council
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to attend the Security Council vote
A new sanctions package designed to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme has been agreed by the six countries handling the issue at the UN.

The British ambassador immediately sent the draft to the 10 non-permanent Security Council members, who have not been included in the negotiations.

The package includes an arms embargo and economic penalties.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made a formal request to attend the Security Council vote on the draft.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful, but Western governments say it wants to develop nuclear weapons.

Last December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose a first, limited set of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

The latest package includes extending a freeze of assets to those linked to Iran's nuclear and missile programmes and a ban on new grants and loans to the state.

The Security Council... calls upon all States to exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply, sale or transfer... of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems... to Iran

Ambassadors from Britain, France, the United States, China and Russia - the five permanent members of the Security Council - and Germany agreed the draft resolution after Tehran refused to stop enriching uranium, which can be a precursor to weapons manufacture.

South Africa's ambassador at the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, who chairs the council this month, warned that the 10 non-permanent members now want to have their say.

"Nowhere in this process have they ever said that the five-plus-one would have the exclusive wisdom of producing [the draft resolution] and for us to rubber-stamp," he said.

Mr Kumalo later said he had received a letter from Iran's UN envoy asking if Mr Ahmadinejad could be present when the Security Council votes on the draft resolution.

Iranian state television quoted a government spokesman as saying that Mr Ahmadinejad wanted to put his case to the council.

Before the draft was presented, the Iranian president had vowed the initiative would not sway his country.

"Issuing such torn pieces of paper ... will not have an impact on the Iranian nation's will," he told a rally in central Iran.

The vote could take place as soon as next week.

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