The agreement by the major powers on "strong" Iran sanctions comes partly in response to Iran's attempts to defang international efforts to monitor its nuclear development, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
"We have been working closely with our P 5+1 partners for several weeks on the draft of a new sanctions resolution on Iran," Clinton told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee on Tuesday, referring to the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. "And today I am pleased to announce to this committee we have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China."
Those two countries have been the most reluctant to expand existing Security Council sanctions.
Clinton did not elaborate, noting that the draft resolution must circulate among all 15 members of the Security Council. But she drew a direct link between the proposal and Iran's attempt this week to head off sanctions by agreeing to a diluted version of an earlier U.S.-initiated proposal to enrich some uranium to medical research levels in exchange for transparency.
"This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide," she said. "There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran."
Under the agreement announced in recent days, Iran would export half its low-enriched uranium to Turkey and Brazil for enrichment to medical research levels.
The Obama administration has rejected the deal as inadequate, noting that under its own original proposal, Iran would have relinquished its entire existing store of uranium and would have made its program more transparent.
Under the Brazil-Turkey deal, Iran would retain enough low-enriched uranium to manufacture a single nuclear bomb should it obtain the means to further enrich it.