March 25th, 2007 06:01 EST
Security Council tightens sanctions against Iran over uranium enrichment
The United Nations Security Council acted unanimously today to tighten sanctions on Iran, imposing a ban on arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets, in response to the country's uranium-enrichment activities, which Tehran says are for peaceful purposes but which other countries contend are driven by military ambitions.
Following the adoption of resolution 1747, Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, immediately rejected it as illegitimate, maintaining Teheran's longstanding claim that the country's nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and therefore outside of the Council's brief.
He also charged that the sanctions were not being imposed in response to the nuclear programme but were rather “schemes of the co-sponsors” carried out “for narrow national considerations aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights.”
The resolution reaffirms that Iran must take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, which has called for a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities; and ratification and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's (NPT) Additional Protocol granting the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.
States are called on “to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.”
Any such persons should be reported to the Council's Iran sanctions committee. A designated list of individuals banned from travel is annexed to the resolution, but its provisions apply to others not listed who are involved in Iran's nuclear weapons programme.
The resolution imposes a strict import/export ban on Iranian weapons, deciding that “Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.”
States must also “exercise vigilance and restraint” with regard to any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems destined for Iran.
Except for humanitarian or development aid, States and international financial institutions should not provide funds to Iran, according to the resolution. All countries have 60 days to report to the Iran sanctions committee on steps they have taken to give effect to the resolution.
The resolution also aims for a diplomatic breakthrough, expressing the Council's conviction that if the IAEA can verify that Iran has suspended its uranium enrichment and reprocessing, this would lead to a negotiated solution that guarantees Iran's nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
Underlining a willingness to work positively for a diplomatic solution, the Council encourages Iran, “to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA.”
Under other provisions of the resolution, the Director-General of the IAEA is to report back to the Council within 60 days on Iran's nuclear programme.
The Council will review Iran's actions in light of that report and will suspend the sanctions “if and for so long as Iran suspends all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by the IAEA, to allow for negotiations in good faith in order to reach an early and mutually acceptable outcome.”
The measures will be terminated once Iran has complied with all Council demands.
However, if Iran does not comply, the Council will “adopt further appropriate measures” aimed at persuading Teheran to comply with its resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA, the resolution warns.
Today's text also recalls an IAEA Board of Governors resolution adopted last year which states that “a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”
Annexed to the resolution is a proposal put forward last June by six countries - China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States - aimed at achieving an end to the standoff by providing elements of a long-term agreement.
Three months ago, the Council imposed a more limited set of sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue. That resolution, also adopted unanimously following weeks of intensive diplomacy, contains a list of persons and entities involved with Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes that are subject to a freeze on their financial assets. Today's resolution expands that list with an Annex containing additional persons and entities also subject to the measures.
Iran's nuclear programme has been a matter of international concern ever since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the NPT.