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Security Council Approves Iran Sanctions
U.N. body unanimously reacts to Tehran's enrichment program
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-27 10:18 (KST)   
The U.N. Security Council unanimously agreed to impose sanctions against Iran on Saturday.

U.N. Resolution 1696 requested a full and sustained suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment activities. As a result of Iran failing to comply, the U.N. Security Council voted for Resolution 1737.

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The Sanctions

The resolution bans import of dual-use equipment related to uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel reprocessing, as well as material and technology used in the development of ballistic missiles.

Additionally, the resolution freezes the assets of 12 individuals and 11 companies alleged to be involved in these programs. It also creates an ad-hoc Committee having authority to amend the list of individuals and companies whose assets should be frozen.

In 60 days, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will provide the Security Council with a report detailing the status of Iran's nuclear program. If Iran fails to comply with the terms of Resolution 1737, further sanctions will be imposed under Article 41, Chapter 7, of the U.N. Charter.

Last June, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States offered Tehran a package of economic and political incentives in exchange for the suspension of its nuclear enrichment program. This package appears to remain an option.

The additional sanctions would be non-military and could affect diplomatic and economic relations, as well as transportations and communications.

History of the Resolution

It took four months for the Security Council's five permanent members -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- and Germany to draft Resolution 1737.

As a result of Russia's repeated objections, often seconded by China, the final resolution is much weaker than earlier drafts that began to circulate in October.

Firstly, members states have greater latitude to unfreeze some of the assets belonging to the involved individuals and companies.

Secondly, the resolution does not prevent these individuals from traveling. While earlier drafts requested members states to prevent entry to these people, the final version merely ask the states to exercise vigilance regarding the entry or transit through their territory of the individuals listed in the resolution.

Thirdly, the resolution was drafted in such a way that Russia can proceed with the construction of the Busher nuclear plant in Southern Iran. The full completion of Busher is expected in the fall 2007.

Uncertainties about the Votes

On Friday, the Russian Ambassador, V. I. Churkin, was still disputing the terms of the resolution, arguing that it would hurt Russian financial interests.

Qatar Ambassador Nassir Al-Nassir announced his intention to support the resolution just minutes before the vote. Qatar would vote yes "because we are concerned about the safety of Iranian nuclear facilities," he said.

On Saturday, Presidents Bush and Putin discussed the vote. They "stressed the importance of maintaining a unified position on Iran's nuclear program," said Blain Rethmeier, a spokesman for Bush.

Reactions from the U.N. Security Council

The resolution sends an "unambiguous message that there are serious repercussions for Iran's pursuit of its nuclear ambitions," said Alejandro D. Wolff, acting American ambassador since the departure of John Bolton.

"If necessary, we will not hesitate to return to this body for further action if Iran fails to take steps to comply," he added.

According to Russian Ambassador Churkin, the sanctions will allow Iran "to lift the remaining concerns over its nuclear program."

Iranian Response

On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the sanctions would not stop Iran from acquiring nuclear technology for civilian purposes.

Tehran denies pursuing nuclear technology for military purposes.

"The nuclear technology is our right, and no one can take it away from us. You will soon regret this superficial action," Ahmadinejad said.

"Beginning Sunday morning, we will begin activities at Natanz [the main Iranian enrichment site] and we will drive with full speed. This will be our immediate response to the resolution," said Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.

The Parliament is expected to draft a bill that would redefine the relations between Tehran and the IAEA. Although rumors have circulated a few months ago that Iran would withdraw from the NPT if the U.N. Security Council voted in favor of sanctions, there is now reasons to believe that the Parliament will actually seek a better working relation with the Vienna Agency.

"Our efforts should be reasonable and moderate. That means we should be after getting our rights and also show that we are not after a fight. And if they are willing to recognize our rights, we will cooperate," said Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the deputy speaker of Parliament.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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