South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said that his country would carefully scrutinize the draft resolution on new UN sanctions against Iran to ensure it leads to “a political solution”. “We want a political solution to this matter,” Kumalo, who chairs the UN Security Council for this month, told reporters Thursday as six major powers introduced a draft broadening UN sanctions exerted on Iran in December over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment work.
“So we will read this document looking to language that opens the door for political negotiations” to resolve the nuclear crisis between Tehran and the six powers, he added.
Kumalo said a vote on the text, worked out by Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, could come next week.
Kumalo added that the council’s 15 members scheduled a meeting next Wednesday afternoon to discuss the sanctions package after delegations have had time to study it and refer it to their capitals.
The new draft broadens sanctions imposed by the council in December after Tehran spurned repeated UN demands to freeze uranium enrichment.
It bans Iran from exporting arms, calls for voluntary trade sanctions on the Islamic Republic and expands a list of officials and companies targeted for financial and travel restrictions because of their alleged links with Iran’s sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“We will be looking for areas where it (the text) addresses non-proliferation, which is important, but also protects the rights of Iran for the peaceful use of nuclear (energy),” Kumalo said.
He also said Pretoria was keen to ensure that the role of the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) in the Iranian nuclear crisis “is also protected because they are the people who are experts on this.”
South Africa, which dismantled its nuclear weapons program in the early 1990s during its transition from white minority rule to a democratic state, has consistently defended Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
South Africa, which took up its seat as non-permanent member of the Security Council in January, has acted as a mediator in the nuclear standoff with Iran.
Late last month, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited South Africa to discuss the crisis with President Thabo Mbeki.