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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

U.S. Considers Adding Military Pressure on Iran as Diplomats Remain at Odds in New York

The United States might deploying more U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf to pressure Iran over its nuclear activities and its role in civil violence in Iraq, a U.S. defense official said yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 19).

One option would be to deploy a second aircraft carrier in the region to join the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which began a tour in late September, the Associated Press reported (Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press I/The Guardian, Dec. 19).

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday urged Washington to avoid using military options against Iran.

�I don�t think we are there yet, or we should go in that direction,� he said in his final news conference as head of the United Nations.� �It would be rather unwise and disastrous.�

Annan encouraged the Security Council to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.

�I believe that the council, which is discussing the issue, will proceed cautiously and try and do whatever it can to get a negotiated settlement for the sake of the region and for the sake of the world,� he said (Irwin Arieff, Reuters/The Star, Dec. 19).

Negotiations among the five permanent council members and Germany have so far failed this week to agree on a resolution to pressure Iran to freeze its nuclear activities, according to AP.

Russia and the United States have squared off over draft resolution sanctions that would ban the international travel of several Iranian officials and freeze the foreign-held assets of some Iranian agencies and firms.

�Our partners are trying to turn the situation into their favor by saturating other parts of the draft resolution with wording which would again make restrictions virtually unlimited,� Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today.� �That would block economic ties with Iran in perfectly legitimate areas.�

Washington and Moscow also disagree on a Russian proposal to have any sanctions automatically expire if Iran meets the council�s demands, said another Russian official (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press II/International Herald Tribune, Dec. 20).
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