A draft U.N. Security Council resolution calls for tough penalties against Iran over its nuclear activities, a senior U.S. diplomat said Thursday, rejecting Russia's claim that the document did not include harsh sanctions.
Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said there would be several weeks of debate before the 15-member Security Council votes on the resolution. But the council's five permanent members ï¿½ the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China ï¿½ approved the draft Tuesday, and Burns said he was confident it would pass.
Burns said the Iranian nuclear program was the main topic during his talks Thursday with Israeli officials in the framework of strategic cooperation.
He said the resolution was "meant to be punitive," rejecting the Russia's assertion Wednesday that it would not further punish Iran for failing to comply with requirements to stop enriching uranium and allow inspection of its nuclear facilities.
Burns said the draft increases travel restrictions on Iranian nuclear scientists, bans trade in items that can be used for nuclear purposes and freezes more Iranian assets.
However, he said, there is still "time for diplomacy." In his discussions with the Israeli team, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former army chief and defense minister, Burns said the possibility of a military strike against Iran's nuclear program did not come up.
"We are not giving up on diplomacy and we will not give up as long as there is a chance it can succeed," he said. He rejected as "very extremist" remarks in Israel this week by John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., that Israel must gear up for its own attack on Iran.
Burns said he hoped the new resolution would demonstrate to Iran that the world was determined to enforce its policies.
"The Iranians have been kind of crowing publicly that the Security Council is not going to act, the Security Council is not unified, and I think they saw that the five leading members, the five permanent members, are united," he said. "Iran should now understand that it remains in isolation."
Burns said the U.S. intelligence report about Iran's suspending its weapons program did not change the fact that Iran is violating previous Security Council resolutions, which focus on processing uranium, not weapons production.
The Israeli and U.S. administrations agree Iran poses a serious threat to regional stability because of its nuclear program. Despite a recent U.S. intelligence report that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, Israel believes Iran is still trying to acquire atomic bombs. Iran insists its intentions are peaceful.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged global business and political leaders to take a personal stand against Iran's leadership by divesting from the country.
"Iran exports terrorism, destabilizes the region, denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel, my home, off the map," she told the forum.
"If every company here and every country here would decide to divest from Iran, this would stop Iran," she added. "Iran is a global threat and Iran can be stopped by you."
Iran received a sixth shipment of nuclear fuel Thursday from Russia, destined for a power plant being constructed in the southern port of Bushehr, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The report said the 11-ton load of enriched uranium arrived in Iran and was transferred to the light-water Bushehr nuclear power plant Thursday morning. The remainder of the fuel will arrive in two separate shipments in the coming weeks, it said.
Iran has said Bushehr, the country's first nuclear reactor, will begin operating in the summer of 2008, producing half its 1,000-megawatt capacity of electricity.
Russia's decision to ship nuclear fuel to Iran follows a U.S. intelligence report released last month that concluded Tehran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and had not resumed it since. Iran says it never had a weapons program.
The United States and Russia have said that with a source of foreign nuclear fuel, Iran has no need to continue its own uranium enrichment program ï¿½ a process that can provide fuel for a reactor or fissile material for a bomb.
Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium to fuel a 300-megawatt light-water reactor in the country's southwest.
Iranian officials have said they plan to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear energy in the next two decades.
President George W. Bush has green-lighted a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Turkey, saying that private-sector proliferation worries have been addressed, the White House said Wednesday.
Bush on Tuesday sent the US Congress a July 2000 agreement, signed by then-US president Bill Clinton, that would clear the way for transfers of nuclear know-how to Turkey's planned civilian atomic sector, it said.
"In my judgment, entry into force of the Agreement will serve as a strong incentive for Turkey to continue its support for nonproliferation objectives and enact future sound nonproliferation policies and practices," Bush said in a letter to lawmakers dated Tuesday.
"It will also promote closer political and economic ties with a NATO ally, and provide the necessary legal framework for US industry to make nuclear exports to Turkey's planned civil nuclear sector," it said.
Lawmakers could pass legislation blocking the accord.
The agreement "permits the transfer of technology, material, equipment (including reactors), and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production," a White House official said.
"It does not permit transfers of sensitive nuclear technology, restricted data, or sensitive nuclear facilities or major critical components of such facilities," the official said.
The pact has an initial term of 15 years and provides for automatic renewal, in five-year increments, unless either side terminates it, according to the official.
The deal stalled shortly after being signed in July 2000 because US agencies received "information implicating Turkish private entities in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation," the White House said.
"The pertinent issues have been sufficiently resolved," it said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited India on Friday to cement ties with a booming Asian economic power, trying to boost civil nuclear cooperation and defence deals.
Sarkozy also echoed Britain's recent support for India's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, where Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States have wielded exclusive veto power since 1945.
Sarkozy voiced support for India's controversial nuclear deal with the United States. If finalized, the deal would allow civil nuclear technology exporters like France to participate in a billion-dollar business with India.
The deal aims to give India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment for the first time in more than 30 years, even though India has tested nuclear weapons and refused to join non-proliferation agreements.
"France will be an advocate for India over access to civilian nuclear (technology)," Sarkozy told reporters.
A joint declaration between the two governments said that "France and India have finalized negotiation in regard to reaching a bilateral agreement for civil nuclear cooperation."
In a possibly controversial move, France also announced on Friday that the government will give a prestigious award, the Prix Simone de Beauvoir, to Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi author exiled in India who recently sparked riots by Muslims offended by her books.
Threats against her have forced authorities to indefinitely house her in a secret security facility in New Delhi, which she has described as "solitary confinement". The Indian government came under attack by the Hindu-nationalist opposition last year for failing to give her enough vocal support.
The French government asked India to take "all measures" needed to help her travel to France for the award.
Sarkozy, accompanied by a business delegation, met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. He will attend a military parade on Saturday with India's president to mark Republic Day.
His visit comes after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit earlier this week, another leader drumming up support for business with the growing economic powerhouse, which is also increasingly playing a more important diplomatic role in Asia.
The nuclear deal, opposed by the Indian government's leftist allies, needs the support of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), whose members work to prevent nuclear exports for peaceful purposes from being used to make atomic weapons.
It must agree unanimously on an exemption for India if the deal is to go ahead, as New Delhi has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many think the deal could be dead after leftist opposition, but the government still hopes to seal it.
"We will pass the operational phase as soon as India concludes an accord with the IAEA and that the international rules of the suppliers' group are changed," Sarkozy said.
India has forged strong defence ties with France in recent years, with deals for Mirage jets and Scorpene submarines to modernize its military, the world's fourth-largest.
Officials say the revival of the Eurocopter deal for 197 military helicopters -- which was dumped by India last month -- could figure in Sarkozy's talks.
France's Dassault Rafale will also compete for a deal to provide India with the world's biggest fighter jet contract in years, expected to top $10.2 billion for 126 fighters.
India's media was at first more interested in the possible visit -- later cancelled -- of Carla Bruni, a singer and former model who was reported to be near to marrying Sarkozy.
Indian newspapers had been full of stories of how a visit by his girlfriend could upset protocol in the deeply conservative country.
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