The U.N. Security Council today adopted a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran, prompting the nation to announce its withdrawal from talks on its nuclear activities that could support weapons development, the Wall Street Journal reported (see GSN, June 8).
Twelve of the body's member nations supported the resolution, while Brazil and Turkey voted in opposition and Lebanon abstained from the decision.
The decision expands the list of heavy weaponry that Iran is not allowed to purchase and prevents U.N. states from providing licenses to Iranian banks connected to proliferation activities. Other measures include a block on Iranian activity on ballistic missiles that could be tipped with nuclear warheads.
There are no sanctions on Iran's energy sector and the resolution cautions but does not forbid nations from conducting business with Iran's central bank -- measures that had been sought by the Obama administration (Joe Lauria, Wall Street Journal, June 9).
The measure imposes asset freezes on 40 additional firms linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile activities, Agence France-Presse reported. It also targets Javad Rahiqi, who heads Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility (Agence France-Presse I/Spacewar.com, June 8).
The resolution notes "the importance of political and diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated solution guaranteeing that Iran's nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes," but stresses "the importance of Iran addressing the core issues related to its nuclear program," the Associated Press reported (Lee/Lederer, Associated Press I/Google News, June 8).
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice commended the Security Council for taking a stand against the "grave threat" of Iran's nuclear work. Tehran has maintained its atomic ambitions are strictly peaceful.
"There are many serious and binding measures in this resolution and we feel pleased with its content -- it is strong, it is broad-based and it will have a significant impact on Iran, which is why Iran has worked so hard to try to prevent its adoption," Rice said (Lauria, Wall Street Journal).
"I think it is fair to say that these are the most significant sanctions that Iran has ever faced," AP quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying yesterday. "The amount of unity that has been engendered by the international community is very significant" (Lee/Lederer, AP I).
Multilateral efforts could still succeed in stopping the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday.
“The key here is a combination of diplomacy and pressure to persuade the Iranians that they are headed in the wrong direction in terms of their own security – that they will undermine their security by pursuit of nuclear weapons, not enhance it,” Gates said, according to a Pentagon press release. “For one thing, their obtaining a nuclear weapon would almost certainly lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons elsewhere in the Middle East and a number of other countries.”
“One of the many benefits of the resolution is that it will provide a legal platform for individual nations to then take individual actions that go well beyond the resolution itself,” Gates said. “And I believe that a number of nations are prepared to act pretty promptly” (U.S. Defense Department release, June 8).
"It's too early to know how effective these sanctions will be, because we don't yet what steps countries will take," Gary Milhollin, head of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, told USA Today. "These sanctions don't mandate things to be done. They authorize things to be done. What this is in effect is a promise that we're going to do something real" (Aamer Madhani, USA Today, June 8).
Iran countered that the resolution demonstrates a lack of U.S. and European interest in pursuing diplomacy seriously, the New York Times reported.
“These hasty measures are merely a deviation from the path of constructive transactions and are indicative of the fact that the other parties rather prefer confrontation,” Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee said in a statement issued before the Security Council vote (Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, June 8)
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency today announced it had received statements from France, Russia and the United States on a three-nation plan for exchanging Iranian uranium for higher-enriched fuel.
Each letter included a paper stating, "Concerns about the Joint Declaration signed in Tehran last month by the Governments of Iran, Brazil and Turkey" (International Atomic Energy Agency release, June 9).
The agreement calls for Iran to store 1,200 kilograms of its low-enriched uranium in Turkey for one year; other countries would be expected within that period to provide nuclear material refined for use at a Tehran medical research reactor in exchange for the Iran-origin uranium. The arrangement appeared similar to another proposal, formulated in October by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that was intended to defer the Middle Eastern state's ability to fuel a nuclear weapon long enough to more fully address U.S. and European concerns about its potential nuclear bomb-making capability. Tehran ultimately rejected the IAEA proposal, which was worked out with Moscow, Paris and Washington.
Each letter raises doubts about the uranium exchange plan aimed at holding up talks on the deal, three diplomats with knowledge of the statements told AP (Associated Press II/Google News, June 9).
"Iran will answer their questions after studying their letters in detail," state media quoted Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi as saying before today's sanctions vote, AFP reported (Agence France-Presse II/Spacewar.com, June 9).
Turkey was attempting to convince Tehran not to give up on the uranium plan in the face of further sanctions, one Turkish diplomat said (Agence France-Presse III/Spacewar.com, June 8).
Elsewhere, Iran yesterday provided the Swiss ambassador to the country with records it said demonstrated that the United States had abducted one of its nuclear scientists, Reuters reported. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran manages U.S. interests in Tehran.
Shahram Amiri, 32, went missing in June 2009 while on his way to Saudi Arabia. News reports in the United States stated he had defected and was supporting CIA operations against Tehran's nuclear work, while the Iranian government said Amiri was kidnapped.
"In the meeting (with the Swiss envoy) Iran emphasized that America is responsible for the life and well-being of Mr. Amiri and stressed his abduction was against all obvious international laws and human rights," state media said.
While a video aired on Iranian television was said to show the scientist attesting to his kidnapping and torture in the United States, a second video purports to show him stating that he was studying in the United States of his own will.
"I am in America and intend to continue my education in this country. I am free here and assure everyone I am safe," the man described as Amiri said in the second video (Reuters, June 8).
The State Department yesterday refuted allegations that Washington had orchestrated Amiri's kidnapping, AFP reported.
"Have we kidnapped an Iranian scientist? The answer is no," spokesman P.J. Crowley said (Agence France-Presse IV/Google News, June 9).