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Can Iran Sanctions Get Through the U.N. Security Council? « The Washington Independent

Colum Lynch does a whip count and reports the answer is yes: There are now 10 votes for Amb. Susan Rice’s sanctions package on Iran’s nuclear program, one more than necessary for passage. But it doesn’t look like it’ll be an easy fight. The Russians and the Chinese, both of whom hold veto power, still want the Iranian government to agree to last year’s proposal, rejected at the time, for the international community to enrich uranium for Iran’s Tehran Research Reactor outside Iran into a state unsuitable for a nuclear weapon:

China and Russia pressured Tehran to agree to an offer to swap its enriched uranium for a foreign supply of nuclear fuel for its medical research reactor. Their appeals — delivered during a U.N. Security Council meeting on nuclear nonproliferation — presented Tehran with a final chance to skirt U.N. sanctions.

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said that while diplomatic efforts by the U.N. and the big powers “have not yielded the desired results,” there “is still a horizon for negotiations. There is still an opportunity to agree to a persuasive mutually acceptable fuel exchange model for Tehran’s research reactor.”

Iran agreed to a version of this deal only after President Obama’s deadline for negotiations had passed, and agreed to a modality for swapping out uranium that didn’t satisfy the U.S.’s concerns that Iran could continue enrichment outside the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency. But if the Russians and the Chinese are really in last-chance mode, than this doesn’t appear to be such a bad deal from a U.S. perspective, as both of those countries — the only actual obstacles to the sanctions package — have both moved very close to the U.S. position over the last year, and this proposal from Moscow and Beijing moves them even further.

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