December 24th, 2006 03:55 EST
U.S. Welcomes U.N. Security Council Resolution on Iran Sanctions
Washington -- The United States has welcomed the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous action December 23 on sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend nuclear enrichment programs, but stressed that further action is needed by individual nations and groupings to force Iranian compliance.
Speaking with reporters in a conference call shortly after the council’s 15-0 vote, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns termed the resolution "significant."
But, Burns said, "We want the international community to take further action and we’re certainly not going to put all of our eggs in the U.N. basket."
"We’re going to try to convince countries, especially the European Union countries [and] Japan to consider some of the financial measures that we have undertaken. … We’d like to see countries stop doing business as usual with Iran," he added.
Burns said the Security Council vote should clear the way for further steps by countries that had argued they could not act in the absence of prior United Nations’ action.
Burns cited as an example that "10 or 11" European nations have extended substantial export credits to Iran. "We would like countries to stop selling arms to Iran. We would like countries to try to limit export credits to Iran."
Burns specifically called on Russia and China, two nations that have been far less inclined toward imposing sanctions on the Iranian regime than the United States has been, to take additional steps to follow on the Security Council’s action.
"Russia and China … tell us that they want to deny Iran a nuclear weapons capability," he said. "We need to see more vigorous action by both of them. We’d like to see an end of the business as usual, the export credits that I mentioned, the military sales that are still going on."
Burns confirmed that President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the Iran issue by telephone earlier December 23, but said he was not aware of the details of that conversation.
The under secretary said there is not much more that the United States, by itself, can do because it already has in place "full-scope sanctions on Iran in every conceivable area."
Burns expressed satisfaction that the Security Council action, taken under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, came by unanimous vote after months of tough negotiations. (See related article.)
He acknowledged that the resolution was not as comprehensive as the United States might have wanted, and said that if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports a lack of Iranian compliance by a February 21, 2007, deadline, "then the council has an obligation to take stronger sanctions in the future."
Ticking off the major provisions of the resolution, he said it:
· Requires Iran to comply fully with the IAEA in resolving questions about the nation’s nuclear program, and requires Iran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities at a plant at Natanz and to stop work on all heavy water-related projects, including construction of a heavy-water research reactor at Arak.
· Prohibits all member states from supplying Iran with items including dual-use equipment -- equipment which he said could contribute to proliferation activities and also to Iran’s development of a nuclear weapons delivery system -- and prohibits Iran from exporting any related equipment or technology to other countries. He said those bans had been "an early objective of the U.S."
· Requires all states to avoid providing Iran with technical assistance, training or financial services that could contribute to a nuclear weapons development problem, a ballistic missile system or development of its enrichment facilities.
· Requires all states to freeze the assets of a specified list of individuals and entities identified as having a key role in Iran’s nuclear program, and requires all states to notify the sanctions committee of travel by those individuals outside of Iran.
That last provision was "the most important part of the resolution," Burns said. He said the United States had fought repeated efforts by others during negotiations to drop it "because we feel that denying financial capital to the Iranian program is the most significant thing that we can do."
Burns said passage of the sanctions resolution will "drive up the costs to the Iranians of … thumbing their nose at the international community by proceeding with these nuclear technological programs."
He stressed that the offer of negotiations, which Iran rejected in October, remains on the table. "Our hope is that the Iranians are going to look at this and conclude that they’re effectively isolating themselves and that they should accept this offer of negotiations," he said.
Burns made clear that the United States’ differences with the Iranian regime extend to more than just its nuclear ambitions.
"Our beef with the Iranians is threefold: First is the clear effort to develop a nuclear weapons program, second is the fact that they’re in effect the central banker funding [terrorist groups] Hezbollah, Hamas, PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] General Command and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And third, they’re a major human rights violator of their own people," Burns said.
For more information on U.S. policies, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
By Ralph Dannheisser
Washington File Special Correspondent