U.N. agrees on Iran sanctions
UNITED NATIONS ” The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose economic sanctions on Iran for refusing to end a uranium enrichment program that the United States says is aimed at building nuclear weapons. Iran immediately rejected the resolution.
The result of two months of negotiation, the resolution orders all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. It also would freeze Iranian assets of key companies and individuals related to those programs.
If Iran refuses to comply, the resolution warns Iran that the council will adopt further nonmilitary sanctions.
The Iranian government immediately rejected the resolution, vowing in a statement from Tehran to continue enriching uranium and saying it “has not delegated its destiny to the invalid decisions of the U.N. Security Council.”
The Bush administration said it hopes the resolution will clear the way for tougher measures by individual countries, particularly Russia.
“We don’t think this resolution is enough in itself,” Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said. “We want to let the Iranians know that there is a big cost to them,” he added, so they will return to talks.
The administration had pushed for tougher penalties. But Russia and China, which both have strong commercial ties to Tehran, and Qatar, across the Persian Gulf from Iran, balked. To get their votes, the resolution dropped penalties such as a ban on international travel by Iranian officials involved in nuclear and missile development.
The U.N. vote came just a day after talks with North Korea, already under U.N. sanctions, failed to halt that country’s atomic program.
Israel, which considers Iran its single greatest threat, welcomed the resolution. Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the vote was “an important first step in preventing Iranian nuclear proliferation.”
Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif denounced the council for imposing sanctions on Iran, which opposes nuclear weapons and has its facilities under U.N. safeguards, while doing nothing about Israel, whose prime minister recently appeared to confirm long suspicions that it is a nuclear power.
“A nation is being punished for exercising its inalienable rights” to develop nuclear energy, primarily at the behest of the United States, Zarif said.
Ahead of the vote, Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Bush, agreeing on the need for a resolution, said Blain Rethmeier, a spokesman for Bush.
“We hope the Russian government is going to work with us in a very active way to send this message of unity to Iran and we hope Russia is going to take a very vigorous approach itself,” Burns said after the vote.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow agreed to sanctions because it wanted Iran “to lift remaining concerns over its nuclear program.”
He stressed that the goal must be to resume talks. If Iran suspends enrichment and reprocessing, the resolution calls for a suspension of sanctions “which would pave the way for a negotiated solution,” Churkin said.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said he hopes the sanctions “will convince Iran that the best way to ensure security it to abandon” nuclear enrichment.
Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the Americans and Europeans suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Tuesday that Security Council sanctions would not stop Iran from pursuing uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel for civilian purposes or fuel for a nuclear bomb.
The resolution authorizes action under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. It allows the Security Council to impose nonmilitary sanctions such as severing diplomatic and economic relations, transportation and communications links.
If Iran fails to comply, the draft says the council will adopt “further appropriate measures” under Article 41.
The resolution calls on all states “to exercise vigilance” regarding the entry or transit through their territory of those on a U.N. list that names 12 top Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear and missile programs. It asks the 191 other U.N. member states to notify a Security Council committee that will be created to monitor sanctions when those Iranians show up in their country.
The resolution also says the council will review Iran’s actions in light of a report from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, requested within 60 days, on whether Iran has suspended uranium enrichment and complied with other IAEA demands.
If the IAEA ” the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog ” verifies that Iran has suspended enrichment and reprocessing, the resolution says the sanctions will be suspended to allow for negotiations. It says sanctions will end as soon as the IAEA board confirms that Iran has complied with all its obligations.
Before the final text was circulated, Churkin pressed for amendments to ensure that Moscow can conduct legitimate nuclear activities in Iran ” a point Churkin stressed Saturday.
Russia is building Iran’s first atomic power plant at Bushehr, which is expected to go on line in late 2007. A reference to Bushehr in the original draft was removed earlier ” as Russia demanded.
The six key parties trying to curb Iran’s nuclear program ” Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States ” offered Tehran a package of economic incentives and political rewards in June if it agreed to consider a long-term moratorium on enrichment and committed itself to a freeze on uranium enrichment before talks on its nuclear program.
That package remains an option, but with Iran refusing to comply with an Aug. 31 council deadline to stop enrichment, Britain and France circulated a draft sanctions resolution in late October, which has been revised several times since then.
To meet concerns of Russia and China that the original resolution was too broad, it was changed to specify in greater detail exactly what materials and technology would be prohibited from being supplied to Iran and to name those individuals and companies that would be affected.
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