The Guardian: Russia joined the west in stepping up the pressure on Iran yesterday over its suspect nuclear programme by agreeing to tighten UN sanctions on the Islamic regime, a day after announcing a delay in the supply of nuclear fuel to it. The Guardian
Russia joined the west in stepping up the pressure on Iran yesterday over its suspect nuclear programme by agreeing to tighten UN sanctions on the Islamic regime, a day after announcing a delay in the supply of nuclear fuel to it.
With surprising speed, the five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany agreed on a stiffer package of economic sanctions against Iran because of its refusal to stop enriching uranium, an operation the west believes is geared to an illicit nuclear bomb programme, but which Tehran insists is aimed at energy generation.
The British ambassador to the UN, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, said he was tabling an agreed security council draft resolution to ban Iranian arms exports, restrict loans to and investment in Iran and lengthen a blacklist of Iranian officials and companies whose assets are being frozen.
After three years of dispute the UN imposed sanctions on Iran in December and set a deadline of three weeks ago for the regime to freeze uranium enrichment or face tougher sanctions. But the December decision took several months to be agreed because of Russia’s reluctance to impose economic sanctions on a country where it has billions at stake in power station, energy, and arms contracts.
This time Moscow has agreed to tighten the noose on Tehran much more quickly than expected. Russia is building Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr and supplying the uranium fuel for the plant. But on Wednesday, in a move that delighted the Americans, Moscow accused Tehran of falling behind on its payments and said the fuel deliveries, due within weeks, would not be made, and that the commissioning of the plant, scheduled for September, had been delayed.
Its decision provoked an angry reaction in Tehran. Yesterday President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the UN security council’s new sanctions package and made plain that Iran would never suspend its nuclear operations under western pressure, a show of recalcitrance that appears to be causing friction and dissent within the Iranian elite.
The new sanctions package, still to be endorsed by the 10 non-permanent members of the security council, characterises the Iranian nuclear programme as a “proliferation risk”. It raises from 12 to 22 the number of Iranian companies or organisations, and from 10 to 18 the number of officials or officers, whose assets are to be frozen and movements monitored. Most of those affected are believed to be connected to the revolutionary guards.
The new penalties also ban arms exports from Iran, but leave arms supplies to the country intact.
Sir Emyr said after a meeting of ambassadors from the six countries: “We have an agreement and I will introduce a text on behalf of the six.” The acting US ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, called it a good text, saying it was an “incremental step” in getting Iran to suspend its nuclear-related activities.
The security council’s current president, South Africa’s UN ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, said experts were meeting again, and would also meet next Tuesday if needed, but the full council will not discuss Iran again until next Wednesday. “We anticipate that the voting would happen maybe well into next week,” Mr Kumalo said.