WASHINGTON – The United States and other major powers, brushing aside Iran’s latest offer to address international concerns about its nuclear program, proposed a detailed list of punitive new measures on Tuesday against the Islamic regime.
The sanctions, which would limit arms sales to Iran and authorize searches of ships for suspected weapons, were formally presented by the United Nations’ five permanent Security Council members for consideration by the full 15-member group. But officials acknowledged that deliberations among the polarized Council members could take weeks, and might be snarled by Iran’s last-minute offer Sunday to try to defuse growing international pressure on the regime.
The sanctions proposal was announced at a moment of high drama, coming a day after Iranian leaders, flanked by Brazilian and Turkish officials, announced an agreement on a nuclear material swap they said should relieve international concerns.
The Iranian offer, though received skeptically by most world powers, appeared to retard an intensifying effort to force Iran to the negotiating table.
However, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton disclosed at a Senate hearing Tuesday that the United States and its Western European allies had finally won agreement from China and Russia, longtime holdouts, on a new sanctions package.
“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Iran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Clinton said.
U.S. and allied officials portrayed the proposed sanctions as a major step, but acknowledged they may not be sufficient to force Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program and comply with U.N. demands.
But the U.N. sanctions likely would be combined with other sanctions imposed by individual countries and groups of nations, adding more pressure.
The package also sets up a new program of surveillance over all arms sales to Iran.