Clinton: Major Powers Have Reached Deal for New Sanctions Against Iran

BY Talea Miller  May 18, 2010 at 12:04 PM EST

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that China, Russia and Western powers have agreed to a draft sanctions resolution against Iran for its nuclear program after months of negotiations.

“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Clinton told U.S. lawmakers Tuesday. “We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today.”

Details of the sanctions have not been released, but the proposal will be presented to the entire 15-member U.N. Security Council on Tuesday afternoon.

Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the five permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. — plus Germany all agreed on the proposal.

Russia and China’s involvement was considered key to any successful sanctions agreement, but the two countries have resisted the step in the past. As recently as a month ago, China was not willing to participate, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Foreign Policy assembled a guide to the major players in the Iran sanctions talks, mapping out some of the obstacles that slowed progress towards a sanctions agreement.

The sanctions proposal comes on the heels of a nuclear fuel swap deal Iran signed with Turkey and Brazil on Monday. The deal calls for Iran to hand over about half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher grade nuclear fuel to run its medical research reactor.

It was intended in part to stave off sanctions against Iran, but the deal was met by skepticism in the U.S. After the signing, Iran said it would continue with a more advanced uranium enrichment program, including production of 20 percent enriched uranium.

“Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Turkey lauded the agreement as an important diplomatic step. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the deal “showed a solution could be achieved through a diplomatic channel, and all efforts should be exerted in this way,” reported Bloomberg.

On Monday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff spoke with Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, and Cliff Kupchan, a research director at the Eurasia Group, about the fuel swap deal and the impact on sanctions efforts.

“There is a U.S. resolution, after all, that says they should suspend making nuclear fuel. We have not enforced that,”Sokolski said. “That is what the sanctions are about. There is a bigger set of issues. How many other countries will follow Iran’s model? On that front, we’re not looking good.”

Kupchan said the deal leaves the idea of sanctions in trouble. “I think moving forward sanctions before we smoke out what the Iranians really have in mind is going to be impossible,” he said. “Now again, we have to keep our eye on the prize. The prize is not to let Iran become a nuclear power under apartheid-like sanctions. Nobody really wins there. So, instead of sticking, you know, to a swap deal that was stuck, now we have it unstuck and let’s see where it goes.”

Watch their full discussion:

In Clinton’s remarks Tuesday she again cast doubt on the validity of the fuel swap agreement.

“This announcement [of draft sanctions] is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” she said.