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Friday, March 16, 2007

Iran's president wants to address U.N. Security Council

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has asked to go before the U.N. Security Council when it debates and votes on a resolution to impose sanctions for Iran's refusal to stop uranium enrichment, the president of the Security Council said Thursday.

"The Security Council will have to decide whether it would accommodate this or not," said Dumisani Kumalo, president of the council and South Africa's ambassador to the United Nations.

Kumalo said Ahmadinejad requested to visit during the adoption of the resolution. That would be a challenge, he said, because the council does not know when that meeting will be.

Kumalo said the group planned to convene next Wednesday, "but that may change."

Whenever the meeting does take place, officials said, a vote on the resolution still may be weeks away.

A presidential delegation from Iran has already requested visas in order to go to the United Nations, but it was unclear how many were requested and when they would be used, according to the American mission to the United Nations.

Iran has rejected U.N. demands that it stop enriching uranium, which Western powers believe is a step toward producing nuclear weapons. Iran has denied that it intends to build weapons and said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Earlier Thursday, Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia -- submitted the new resolution to the council for consideration.

The proposed sanctions include a ban on Iranian arms exports, a watch list on travel by people connected to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, an expanded assets freeze on select individuals and companies involved in nuclear activities or nuclear weapons delivery systems, and a call for nations not to enter new agreements for grants or loans except for humanitarian assistance.

The purpose of a ban on Iranian export of weapons, mostly small arms and explosives, is to subdue the smuggling of weapons to Iran's ally Hezbollah, largely in Lebanon, but also into Iraq.

The draft resolution calls only for "vigilance and restraint" in selling arms or missile systems to Iran and in providing any technical assistance, training or financial support for the sale or manufacture of those items.

This proposal would intensify the U.N. sanctions on Iran first imposed in late 2006. The view of the six nations is that pressure must be raised incrementally on Tehran to get it to comply with demands that it stop enrichment and answer questions about its nuclear program.
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