UNITED NATIONS (Combined SOurces)–The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday approved new sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear program that target Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments.
The resolution imposing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran was approved by a vote of 12-2 with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting “no.”
Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent council members, brokered a fuel-swap agreement with Iran which they hoped would address concerns Tehran may be enriching uranium for nuclear weapons and avoid new sanctions.
Hours before the voting at the Security Council, the U.S., Russia and France said the swap proposal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey – unlike the original plan drawn up eight months ago – would leave Iran with enough material to make a nuclear weapon. They also noted that Iran intends to continue a new program of enriching uranium to a higher level.
Though the reply by the three nations was confidential, Glyn Davies, the chief U.S. representative to the IAEA, appeared to outline their problems with the deal in comments to a 35-nation meeting of the IAEA board. Beyond that, he said Iran appeared “determined to defy and to obfuscate” international attempts to probe its suspected nuclear program.
“The fundamental issue remains: Is Iran willing to meet its international nonproliferation obligations, build international confidence and enable the IAEA to provide assurances as to the peaceful nature of its nuclear program?” he said in comments to the closed session made available to reporters. “The [IAEA] director general told us that Iran is preventing the IAEA from doing so,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, called the sanctions the latest round of sanctions the toughest ever, but the measures are still far short of crippling economic punishments or an embargo on oil shipments, Iran’s prime money earner.
The new resolution bans Iran from pursuing “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” bars Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibits Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles.
It imposes new sanctions on 40 Iranian companies and organizations – 15 linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, 22 involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities and three linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. That more than doubles the 35 entities now subject to an asset freeze.
The resolution also adds one individual to the previous list of 40 Iranians subject to an asset freeze – Javad Rahiqi who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center. Under its provisions, all 41 individuals are now also subject to a travel ban.
The resolution also calls on all countries to cooperate in cargo inspections – which must receive the consent of the ship’s flag state – if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe the cargo could contribute to Iranian nuclear program.
On the financial side, it calls on – but does not require – countries to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance, and to ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
The Security Council imposed limited sanctions in December 2006 and has been ratcheting them up in hopes of pressuring Iran to suspend enrichment and start negotiations on its nuclear program. The first two resolutions were adopted unanimously and the third by a vote of 14-0 with Indonesia abstaining.
Iran has repeatedly defied the demand and has stepped up its activities, enriching uranium to 20 percent and announcing plans to build new nuclear facilities. Tehran insists its program is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to suspend nuclear negotiations in response to Clinton’s remarks and a new set of sanctions.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the West’s position again Wednesday, saying the international community should show a fair stance and react not only to Iran but also to other regional countries that already have nuclear weapons.
“All countries in the world must know that crimes they commit and rules they violate will not be unreciprocated. A fair stance must be displayed against these states,” Erdogan said at the Millennium Development Goals Regional Conference organized in Istanbul. The prime minister reiterated that Turkey does not want nuclear weapons in its region and called the Turkey-Brazil-brokered swap deal “a diplomatic victory.”
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said his country is working closely with other states to ease concern over Iran’s nuclear program but views sanctions like those expected to be approved by the U.N. as ineffective.
Speaking late Monday in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Putin asserted that past experience had demonstrated that imposing sanctions was no substitute for resolving core problems with the behavior of individual states.
“International practice knows perfectly well how these sanctions work. And what? Do you know of a single case where they were effective?” the Russian premier asked.