Iran Nuclear NewsSecurity Council approves sanctions against Iran over nuclear program

Security Council approves sanctions against Iran over nuclear program


New York Times: The Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sanctions intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, capping months of negotiations over how severe and sweeping the restrictions should be. The New York Times

Published: December 24, 2006

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 23 — The Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sanctions intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, capping months of negotiations over how severe and sweeping the restrictions should be.

The resolution, prepared by Germany and the Security Council’s five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — bans the import and export of materials and technology used in uranium enrichment, reprocessing and ballistic missiles.

Alejandro D. Wolff, the acting American ambassador to the United Nations, hailed the measure as an “unambiguous message that there are serious repercussions” for Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear ambitions. He added, however, that it was “only a first step,” saying, “If necessary, we will not hesitate to return to this body for further action if Iran fails to take steps to comply.”

The resolution, which mandates compliance but restricts punishment to nonmilitary measures, has been in the works since Iran flouted the Security Council’s call for a “full and sustained suspension” of nuclear activities by Aug. 31. It is weaker than proposals in earlier drafts, which started circulating in October, after repeated changes intended to placate Russia, which has strong economic ties with Iran. Throughout the process, Russia’s objections were often seconded by China.

Uranium enrichment is the first step in making fuel that can be used for nuclear power plants, or for nuclear weapons. Iran has maintained that it has the right to pursue its nuclear program, which it says is aimed at generating electricity.

Iran’s United Nations ambassador, Javad Zarif, greeted the resolution’s passage with a lengthy and critical address, saying that it “can only remind the Iranian people of the historical injustices this Security Council has done to them” and that the Council should focus its efforts instead on Israel, which he declared an “actual threat to international peace and security.”

The measure would freeze the assets of 12 Iranians and 10 companies said to be involved in nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It also would give a new committee the authority to amend the list later.

The final version of the text, however, qualifies the asset freeze in some respects, for example by giving countries more latitude to unfreeze certain assets than previous drafts would have allowed.

In an effort to maintain their sometimes fragile coalition, the Americans and Europeans also agreed to eliminate a mandatory travel ban on those people said to be involved in nuclear activities. While older drafts had mandated that all states “prevent entry” of such people, the final version of the resolution simply “calls upon” states to “exercise vigilance” over their borders.

In another nod to Russia, the resolution was amended to exclude any sanctions against a nuclear power plant that Russia is building at Bushehr, in southern Iran.

R. Nicholas Burns, the American under secretary of state for political affairs, said that the Security Council’s unanimous approval of the measure was “significant,” and that the “process of compromise that allowed us to reach this resolution was worth it in that respect.” He said he hoped that it would encourage other countries and organizations to adopt sanctions against Iran, and noted that harsher economic penalties could follow if Iran failed to halt its nuclear program within 60 days.

The Security Council was initially expected to approve the resolution on Friday, but as recently as Friday morning, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly I. Churkin, voiced concerns that the text threatened legitimate business deals.

Mr. Churkin maintained that the resolution was intended to prod Iran to negotiate, not to punish it. Several small 11th-hour revisions, however, allayed Moscow’s concerns, including the removal of one company, Aerospace Industries Organization, from the list of those involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program. Several of the company’s subsidiaries remain on the list.

“We believe that the resolution is written in a way which should not allow hindering legitimate activities,” Mr. Churkin said Saturday. “We’ll see what happens in the course of implementation.”

For years, some officials within the American government have pressed for the Security Council to adopt sanctions to halt Iran’s nuclear pursuits.

In June, the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany offered Iran a package of economic and political incentives to halt its nuclear program. The offer was rejected, setting the stage for the Aug. 31 deadline and, ultimately, the sanctions resolution.

The resolution’s European sponsors emphasized that they hoped it would inspire Iran to cooperate.

Emyr Jones Parry, Britain’s ambassador, said the “long, complicated, sensitive” negotiation had culminated in a “very tough message.”

Jean-Marc de la Sablière, the French ambassador, said: “Iran has now a very clear-cut choice to make. Cooperate with the international community or be more and more isolated. And we hope that Iran will make the right choice, the choice of dialogue.”

U.N. Approves Renovation Plan

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 23 (Reuters) — The General Assembly on Saturday approved a top-to-bottom renovation of its landmark Manhattan headquarters building that is expected to take seven years at a cost of $1.9 billion.

The main building is a 39-story aluminum, glass and marble tower that houses the United Nations Secretariat and is considered an outstanding example of modern architecture.

But after 54 years, its roof leaks, it is riddled with asbestos and it lacks fire detectors, a sprinkler system or other emergency safety devices.

Renovation was first envisioned in 2002, and the project was estimated then to end up costing about $1 billion. But the price tag has soared since then, mostly because of construction delays, improvements focused on security and a failed campaign to persuade the New York State Legislature to approve a new office building to provide temporary space for staff members.

The project is to be financed by increases in the dues paid by all the members of the United Nations on a sliding scale. That will put the poorest nations’ share at a little under $2 million each. The United States, which picks up the tab for 22 percent of the regular United Nations budget, will pay more than $400 million.

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