West eyes Iran central bank in sanction push

Tue Feb 2, 2010 6:19am GMT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States and three European powers hope to blacklist Iran's central bank and firms linked to the Revolutionary Guard Corps in a new round of U.N. sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program, diplomats said.

Western powers have called for a fourth round of U.N. measures against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment activities as demanded by five Security Council resolutions.

Iran insists it has a sovereign right to produce nuclear fuel for what it says is a peaceful civilian atomic energy program. The West fears Tehran's program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

The United States, Britain, France and Germany want to reach an agreement this month with Russia and China -- which have veto power on the Security Council and have opposed tough sanctions in the past -- so that they can begin work on a new U.N. sanctions resolution as soon as possible.

Western diplomats told Reuters that officials at the U.S. State Department have circulated a paper outlining possible new sanctions to senior foreign ministry officials in London, Paris and Berlin.

Officials from the four Western powers will hold a conference call soon, possibly later this week, to try to agree on a sanctions proposal to put to Moscow and Beijing, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At a meeting in New York last month, senior foreign ministry officials, known as political directors, from five of the six powers discussed Iran's nuclear program. Diplomats said China sent a low-level envoy who declared Beijing felt it was not the right time to pursue further sanctions against Tehran.

U.S. plans to sell $6.4 billion (4 billion pound) in weapons to Taiwan, diplomats noted, could complicate negotiations with China.   Continued...

<p>Russian (L and R) and Iranian operators monitor the nuclear power plant unit in Bushehr, about 1,215 km (755 miles) south of Tehran, November 30, 2009. REUTERS/ISNA/Mehdi Ghasemi</p>
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