The Times: The diplomatic campaign to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb came to a climax yesterday when the UN ordered Tehran to halt all uranium enrichment activities and threatened sanctions if it failed to do so by August 31. The Times
By James Bone
Tehran greets Security Council order to halt uranium enrichment activities with customary defiance
THE diplomatic campaign to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb came to a climax yesterday when the UN ordered Tehran to halt all uranium enrichment activities and threatened sanctions if it failed to do so by August 31.
Previous appeals to Iran to suspend its enrichment work were made mandatory in the Security Councils first resolution on the nuclear stand-off, depriving Tehran of its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop the nuclear fuel cycle.
The council voted 14-1, with support from Russia and China for the first time and only Qatar against. It expressed its intention to adopt appropriate measures if Iran failed to comply by August 31, but worded the resolution to avoid any threat of military force.
US officials say that Washingtons next step may be to seek UN sanctions banning Iranian imports of dual-use items, limiting Tehrans access to technology and restricting travel by Iranian officials.
Iran has remained defiant, rejecting the resolution in a commentary on state-run radio on Sunday even before the vote.
Javad Zarif, Irans Ambassador to the UN, said that the resolution was destructive and totally unwarranted.
This approach will not lead to any productive outcome and, in fact, it can only exacerbate the situation, he told the Security Council.
Margaret Beckett, the British Foreign Secretary, welcomed the resolution as a sign that the world was united and determined to see that Iran does not acquire the means to develop nuclear weapons.
She said that the EU, backed by China, Russia and the US, was ready to give Iran everything it needs to achieve its stated ambition of a civil nuclear power industry. We are deeply disappointed that Iran has given no indication that it is ready to engage seriously on these proposals, nor taken the steps necessary for talks to begin, she said. The proposals remain on the table and I urge Iran to take the positive path on offer.
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, also urged Iran to heed the resolution. We wanted to get this one passed and see if the Iranians wish to change course. I am quite confident that if this continues and if on August 31 there is not a positive answer, then we will be able to come to agreement on the next resolution under Article 41, Chapter 7, she said, referring to sanctions.
International concern about Irans suspected nuclear weapons programme has been building since August 2002 when an exiled opposition group reported the existence of a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy-water plant at Arak. Negotiations between Iran and the EUs big three Britain, France and Germany broke down a year ago when Iran abandoned its voluntary moratorium on uranium enrichment work.
The International Atomic Energy Agencys board of governors voted on February 4 to refer Iran to the Security Council. On March 29 the Security Council adopted a non-binding statement calling on Iran to freeze uranium enrichment work. But Iran ignored the appeal. The next month President Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had, for the first time, enriched uranium to the level used in power stations and declared that his country had joined the nuclear club.
To enlist Russian and Chinese support, the EU three and the US agreed to offer Iran incentives to abandon enrichment, including a light-water reactor, an atomic fuel storage facility and the prospect of Washington joining the EUs direct talks with Tehran. Iran said that it took the offer seriously but needed until August 22 to respond ignoring a deadline set by the six powers.
The resolution also reiterated IAEA calls for Iran to reconsider building its heavywater reactor, answer outstanding questions and allow spot inspections by the IAEA.
The resolution calls on all states to exercise vigilance and prevent the transfer of any items, materials, goods and technology that could contribute to Irans enrichment- related and reprocessing activities and ballistic missile programmes.
It was the second time in a month that the Security Council had adopted a resolution aimed at a member of President Bushs axis of evil, after a vote to crack down on North Koreas missile tests.
Mr Zarif, the Iranian envoy, compared attempts to stop Iran developing nuclear power to US and British objections to the 1951 nationalisation of its oil industry, which led to a coup.
But John Bolton, Washingtons Ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council that Iran had consistently defied the international community.
Russia and China backed the resolution as part of a strategy with the EU and the US to offer Iran a clear choice between co-operation and isolation. Vitali Churkin, Russias Ambassador, said that the next step could be sanctions.