Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 19:00 UK

UN set to reaffirm Iran sanctions

Technicians at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities  (8 August 2005)
Iran maintains that the purposes of its nuclear programme are peaceful

A draft resolution on Iran's nuclear programme has been agreed by foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Diplomats said there were no new sanctions in the resolution but it reaffirmed three earlier rounds of UN sanctions and pushed for compliance.

The agreement came after discussions between the US and Russia in New York.

The draft will be up for consultations at the UN later on Friday with a vote possible at the weekend, diplomats say.

Western powers suspect Iran wants to build a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

'Very brief draft'

The UN Security Council has already imposed three packages of sanctions against Iran for defying its calls to halt uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing and refusing to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: "We look forward to that resolution being passed, and we also look forward to full engagement by the government of Iran with the very significant offer that is on the table to them."

He added that the new resolution would "affirm our unity ...rally international support and ... show our determination to ensure that the international rules are upheld in this very important area".

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said "there were some concerns" that the group of six countries was not working together.

"So in order to dispel those concerns... the ministers have decided to introduce this very brief draft resolution which would reaffirm the previous decisions of the Security Council," he added.

On Wednesday, Iran's president warned it would resist "bullying powers" who tried to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country supported dialogue but would not accept "illegal demands".

Positive signal

In a report last week, the IAEA said that without further information, it would not be able to provide assurances about Iran's nuclear programme to the international community.

The resolution is meant to show Tehran that the world powers are still united in their demands that Iran halt its uranium enrichment, the BBC's Kim Ghattas reported.

The surprise announcement came after a meeting of the five members, joined by Germany.

Known as the P5+1, the group was initially scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss Iran, but the talks were cancelled when Russia said the time was not right to meet and publicly US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice agreed.

It was seen as a rebuff to the US, highlighting the tensions between Washington and Moscow, our correspondent said, but the new resolution is perhaps a sign that Russia and the US are still willing to work together, at least on Iran.

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