Expected Security Council Actions


Richard Moore

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Expected Council Action

In June, Iran will almost certainly be on the Council's agenda again. As 
forecast last month, a draft resolution was introduced by France and the UK and,
at press time, negotiations are still ongoing. Adoption in June now seems 
likely. Follow up action also seems likely in June.

The draft would establish a binding obligation on Iran to suspend all uranium 
enrichment processes. The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy 
Agency (IAEA) would be requested to verify compliance.

The Council is also expecting to be briefed, in conjunction with consideration 
of the draft resolution, about a separate package of "incentives and 
disincentives" being developed by the EU3 (Germany, France and the UK)-an 
approach which flowed out of P5 discussions earlier in May. The incentives, 
which seem likely to be presented to Iran before the Council meets, seem likely 
to include assistance with the Iranian nuclear programme. The 
disincentives-sanctions-would be clearly signalled but would require further 
Council action. It is expected that the draft will reflect the package and 
include an intention to consider further measures in case of non-compliance.


With respect to the current negotiations over the draft resolution it seems that
the Council itself will have few options when agreement is reached amongst the 
P5 and Germany.  Most members seem ready to accept the outcome.

Depending on Iran's response, however, the Council seems likely to have the 
following options:

€  Impose various sanctions if Iran rejects the package outright. (The options 
in this regard include targeted sanctions against individuals or limited 
economic sanctions targeting specific commodities or a combination of both. Full
economic sanctions, such as against Iraq in 1990, seem unlikely.)

€  If, however, Iran signals some flexibility an option may be for the Council 
to call for a more inclusive negotiating process to flesh out the details, 
including not only the EU3, but perhaps also in some sort of innovative format 
include Russia and the US and even some other Council members, under a framework
in which Iran suspends the uranium enrichment process and allows the resumption 
of full inspections under its safeguards agreement during the negotiations.

Council Dynamics

The US, France and the UK are seeking a legally binding resolution on Iran to 
comply with all confidence-building measures required by the IAEA and by the 29 
March presidential statement. China and Russia seem to agree on the objective, 
but an underlying difference in approach remains.

The P3 consider that a Chapter VII resolution is essential to establish a 
legally binding character and that, in any case, it will provide a firmer 
political message to Iran. Also, because they consider uranium enrichment is a 
proliferation risk, and because there have been problems about transparency with
Iran's enrichment programme, the P3 argue that the international community has 
to act on the basis of prevention.

Russia and China had reservations on the initial draft. They argued that:

€  All Council resolutions are legally binding and not only the ones adopted 
under Chapter VII;

€  A Chapter VII resolution is only needed when concrete measures are to be 
taken to restore international peace and security; and

€  The current draft could pave the way to military intervention, about which 
they disagree unless there is a proof that Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons.

€  Although they agree with a policy of incremental pressure, they prefer to 
move in smaller and more cautious increments. They argued at the P5 plus Germany
meetings on 2 and 8 May that the threat of sanctions at that point was 

In response to these views the P3 agreed at the 8 May P5 plus Germany meeting, 
that before pushing ahead with language which might imply sanctions they would 
also develop a parallel package of incentives so that both could be on the 
table. This was an important compromise to Russian and Chinese views and, in 
return, the P3 will be expecting greater unity when the package is presented to 
the Council.  (The package is likely to be presented to Tehran almost 
simultaneously with its presentation to the Council.)

The dynamics have been further complicated by the appearance towards the end of 
May of divergences, not only with Russia and China, but also between the EU3 and
the US on aspects of the "incentives" part of the package.

In May the UK and France continued their efforts to better share information on 
the progress of the draft resolution with elected Council members (E10) through 
the convening of more Council consultations. However, negotiations among the P5 
outside New York have tended to exclude the E10 from participation in the 

Key Issues

The first issue is whether the package of incentives and disincentives will 
secure the votes of certain reluctant Council members. It seems unlikely that 
any Council members will object or seek to argue that the package should be open
to some negotiation before the resolution is adopted.

The main issue for June will be Iran's response to both the package and the 
resolution because it will determine the next steps by the Council. If Iran 
rejects the package, the P3 have made it clear that they would then seek a 
further Council resolution including sanctions against Iran. If the current 
draft is adopted unanimously, opposition to the Council moving to the next steps
will be more difficult to sustain.

Another issue is the timing of the IAEA report on Iran's compliance to be 
requested in the resolution. There may be interest by some members in pushing 
out the compliance report deadline. A factor is that the next meeting of the 
IAEA Board of Governors is scheduled for 12 June. A related issue is whether the
report would need to be considered by the Board-which might become relevant if 
the Iranian response is not one of outright rejection and there are technical 
points to be resolved.

Recent Developments

On 28 April, the Director General of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, submitted a 
report on the progress of Iranian compliance with the steps required by the IAEA
Board in connection with the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty 
safeguards agreements in Iran, as requested by the presidential statement 
adopted in March by the Council. The report noted that:

€  the existing gaps in knowledge on Iran's nuclear programme continued to be a 
matter of concern;

€  Iran had not resumed cooperation with the IAEA under the Additional Protocol;

€  Iran had not implemented the confidence-building measures requested by the 
Board of Governors and the Security Council, such as the suspension of uranium 

On 2 May, the Political Directors of the P5 and Germany met in Paris. While it 
appeared that there was unity among the P5 and Germany on the fact that Iran 
should comply with the international demands to suspend uranium enrichment, 
differences of views about the approach remained.

France and the UK circulated the draft resolution to all Council members on 3 
May. On 8 May, a ministerial meeting was held in New York among the P5 and 
Germany in order to find a common position on the draft. Russia and China 
expressed their reluctance to adopt a Chapter VII resolution. But the 
participants agreed to explore further possibilities for encouraging Iran to 
come back to the negotiating table. The Europeans agreed to develop a package of
incentives and disincentives in order to persuade Iran to limit its nuclear 
programme and reinstate fuller inspections. The incentives seem likely to 
include civilian nuclear cooperation, including access to reactor technology and
a revived version of the Russian proposal for enrichment to take place in Russia
and various economic and trade partnerships. It seems that possible security 
guarantees and a wider negotiating team involving all the interested parties, 
including the US, have been discussed but the US is not ready to got so far.

The US, on 15 May, announced its intention to normalise relations with Libya, 
almost three years after Libya renounced to its illegal nuclear programme. The 
timing of this initiative has been largely interpreted as a hint to Iran.

On 18 May the Secretary of the League of Arab States wrote to the Security 
Council expressing "complete rejection" of nuclear weapons in the region and 
reactivated an earlier Arab proposal for a regional nuclear weapon free zone-an 
issue with implications for Israel as well as Iran.

Underlying Problems

Various experts are advocating for some role for the US in negotiations with 
Iran, bearing in mind that in 1994, following action in the Council against 
North Korea's nuclear programme, multilateral talks including the US, had 
allowed room for successful negotiation between all the necessary players. 

Reportedly ElBaradei also raised this question with the US. However, it seems 
the US is not ready for this as yet. The memory of the Iranian hostage crisis, 
Iran's support for terrorist groups and the aggressive rhetoric of President 
Ahmadinejad against Israel no doubt contribute to US reluctance. Iran seems open
to direct involvement with the US but there is uncertainty whether this is fully
agreed in Iran.

Most Recent Documents

 Latest IAEA Board Resolution
  €   GOV/2006/14 (4 February 2006)
 Latest IAEA Reports
  €  S/2006/270 (28 April 2006)
  €  GOV/2006/15 (27 February 2006)
 Security Council Presidential Statement
  €   S/PRST/2006/15 (29 March 2006)
 Other UN Documents

€  S/2006/305 (18 May 2006) was the letter from the Permanent Observer of the 
League of Arab States.

€  S/2006/273 (1 May 2006) was the letter from Iran to the Secretary-General 
deploring recent US statements that "all options remain on the table" to deal 
with Iran.

€  S/2006/178 (22 March 2006) was the letter from Iran to the Secretary-General 
deploring US threats to resort to force against Iran

€  S/2006/80 (7 February 2006) was the letter from the Secretary-General to the 
president of the Council including the list of IAEA documents on the 
implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in Iran, communicated by the 

  €  Letter from President Ahmadinejad to President Bush (8 May 2006)

  €  Conclusions of the EU3 + 3 meeting on Iran in Berlin (30 March 2006)

  €  Franco-Russian statement on nuclear issues (14 February 2006)
  €  London Accord (31 January 2006)
  €  EU3 Berlin statement (12 January 206)

Please see our February 2006 Monthly Forecast for Key Facts and Historical 

Useful Additional Sources

Anthony Bubalo, Michael Fullilove and Mark thirlwell, Fuelling Confrontation: 
Iran, the US and the Oil Weapon, Lowly Institute for International policy, May 

Previous Reports on Iran
  €  Iran (May 2006 Forecast)
  €  Iran (February 2006 Forecast)
  €  Iran (March 2006 Forecast) 


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