June 9, 2010 in Nation/World

Iran sanction backers seek Brazil’s support

Paul Richter Tribune Washington bureau

WASHINGTON – With a critical U.N. Security Council vote looming, Western diplomats appealed to Brazilian officials Tuesday to drop their opposition to a new battery of international sanctions against Iran.

Iranian officials, meanwhile, continued pursuing their own diplomatic efforts to head off new penalties. The Security Council was expected to vote today on a resolution to impose a new round of sanctions, the fourth since 2006.

At least 12 of the Security Council’s 15 members are expected to vote to approve the sanctions, which are aimed at pressuring Iran to limit its nuclear program. But in the interest of displaying international unanimity, the resolution’s supporters would prefer that countries skeptical of new sanctions abstain rather than vote “no.”

Avoiding “no” votes “would make a big difference symbolically,” said an official of a country that favors the new sanctions, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with diplomatic protocol.

Iran argues that it is developing a nuclear program only for peaceful purposes; the United States and many other countries suspect it is seeking to develop atomic weapons.

Brazil, a Security Council member, has criticized the proposed sanctions, which seek to punish Iran’s nuclear industry, limit non-nuclear arms sales and authorize ship inspections to prevent imports of nuclear-related equipment. The resolution adds 41 organizations and a scientist to a blacklist.

U.S. officials met Monday with Brazil’s deputy foreign minister to discuss the sanctions. An abstention by Brazil could make it harder for Turkey and Lebanon, which also have criticized the proposed resolution, to vote “no.”

The Security Council’s major powers, including Russia and China in addition to the United States, are expected to vote to approve the sanctions. The proposed sanctions measure was weakened by U.S. officials and their allies in a bid to win assent from Russia and China, which generally have resisted sanctions proposals against Iran.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email