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Thu 28 Feb 2008 10:31 AM

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UN to vote on Iran sanctions next week

Security Council plans new amendments to sanctions to try and secure unanimous support.

A UN Security Council vote on new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear defiance won't happen until next week as sponsors of the draft mull new amendments to try to secure unanimous support, a Western diplomat said Wednesday.

The vote on a draft resolution slapping a third set of sanctions on the Islamic republic over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work had been expected to be held Friday.

But the Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told newswire AFP: "There won't be a vote Friday."

He said more time was needed to discuss amendments to a draft sponsored by Britain and France to bring on board four countries which have expressed reservations about the new sanctions: Indonesia, Libya, South Africa and Vietnam.

The draft has already been agreed by the six major powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, trying to coax Tehran into giving up uranium enrichment, which could give it the capability to build nuclear weapons.

The draft's sponsors are confident that they have enough votes to ensure passage, which requires nine votes and no veto from either of the five permanent council members.

But they say they would like to secure unanimous approval to send a clear and united message to Tehran.

Meanwhile, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters Wednesday that Moscow was ready to support the new UN sanctions against Iran if Tehran does not change tack on its nuclear programme.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful and geared only toward generating electricity.

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