World and Nation

World Powers Agree on Sanctions Against Iranian Nuclear Program

The world’s leading powers agreed Tuesday on a new set of sanctions against Iran to present as a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council, but they did not announce details of the sanctions, which are intended to induce Tehran to give up its nuclear program.

The foreign ministers from the five permanent members of the Security Council — China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States — met here in the German capital at the invitation of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Germany. They discussed new ways to crack down on Iran for uranium enrichment, which Western governments have said could eventually be used in a restarted weapons program.

“We are agreed on the content of the next Security Council resolution,” Steinmeier said at a news conference after the two-hour meeting, without providing details. He was the only representative who spoke, and took no questions.

Without specifics on the proposed sanctions, it was unclear whether they would be much more extensive than previous sanctions or would be more of a symbolic gesture intended to demonstrate solidarity among the great powers. Russia and China, in particular, have resisted calls for harsher sanctions.

The proposed resolution will be submitted to the full Security Council within a few weeks, Steinmeier said.

The Security Council has twice voted to impose sanctions to stop Iran from enriching uranium, in December 2006 and March 2007. But the release last December of a declassified U.S. intelligence report saying that Iran had put its nuclear weapons program on hold in 2003 seemed to blunt the Bush administration’s argument that Iran presented a threat.

Iranian officials seized on the report, the American National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, as evidence that their nuclear ambitions were civilian, not military. Bush administration officials countered that Iran had deceived the world about a weapons program that could easily be restarted, and that Tehran was required to stop enriching uranium to comply with the Security Council resolutions.

“This is a swift reminder to the Iranians that they are not in compliance,” a senior U.S. official said after the announcement. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not yet been made to the full Security Council, said that the United States was happy with the plan, which would “take some of the previous sanction measures and strengthen them” and add “new elements.”

The official specifically referred to the freezing of assets and travel bans, but said he could not elaborate because the foreign ministers were not releasing the text of the agreement until it could be shared with the 10 remaining, nonpermanent, members of the Security Council.

Despite the results of the intelligence estimate, the United States has been trying to keep the pressure on Iran. President Bush went to the Middle East this month to try to build a united Arab front against Iran.