UNITED NATIONS - Britain and France said Thursday they expect the Security Council to vote Saturday and approve new U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
The two countries cosponsored the resolution that would impose a third round of sanctions on Iran. The two previous sanctions resolutions were adopted unanimously, but this one is currently facing difficulties from four non-permanent council members who have raised a variety of concerns - Libya, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers said the resolution would have been adopted if it was put to a vote on Thursday. It is supported by the five veto-wielding council members - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France - and has more than the nine "yes" votes needed in the 15-member council for adoption.
But Sawers said France and Britain are holding up putting the resolution in the final form "to go the extra mile" and get the countries with concerns on board. He said a vote will probably be on Saturday.
Libya's U.N. Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi told reporters on Monday that he would vote against the current draft, and Indonesia's U.N. Ambassador Marty Natalegawa reiterated his country's serious concerns on Thursday.
"As of today, we feel there are more questions than answers," Natalegawa said. "We are in a cycle of sanctions, noncompliance, more sanctions, more noncompliance, and where does that lead the Security Council to?"
Iran insists its enrichment activities are intended only to produce fuel for nuclear energy to generate electricity, but the U.S., the European Union and others suspect its real aim is to produce atomic weapons.
The draft resolution would expand travel restrictions and the freezing of assets to more Iranian officials linked to the nuclear effort, and impose a travel ban on some of those most involved in proliferation activity.
For the first time, it would ban trade with Iran in goods which have both civilian and military uses. It would also introduce financial monitoring on two banks, call on all countries "to exercise vigilance" in granting export credits, and authorize inspections of shipments to and from Iran that are suspected of carrying prohibited goods.