UN imposes mild sanctions on Iran


Richard Moore

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UN Imposes First Sanctions on Iran's Nuclear Program (Update5)
By Bill Varner

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations Security Council voted 15 to 0 to 
impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program for the first time, including a
ban on acquisition of materials and technology that might be used to build an 
atomic bomb.

The measure demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment and heavy-water projects 
that the U.S. and its European allies have said may lead to the development of 
nuclear weapons. It freezes the financial assets of 12 named individuals and 11 
groups such as the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The resolution also requires the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the International
Atomic Energy Agency, to report on Iran's compliance within 60 days. ``Further 
appropriate measures'' such as economic penalties and severance of diplomatic 
relations will be required if Iran doesn't comply, it says.

``We are sending Iran an unambiguous message that there are serious 
repercussions to its continued disregard of its obligations and defiance of this
body,'' U.S. Acting Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said. ``We look forward to Iran's
full, unconditional and immediate compliance with this resolution.''

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said after the vote that the country's nuclear 
program wouldn't be affected.

The ``new resolution will not be an obstacle in the way of Iran's nuclear 
progress,'' the ministry said in a statement published by the state-run Fars 
news agency. ``The Iranian nation, by relying on the national abilities and 
within the framework of nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its undeniable 
rights, will continue its program.''

Negotiations With Russia

The vote, the result of more than two months of negotiations largely aimed at 
winning Russia's support, occurred as the U.S. and Britain are close to 
increasing naval power in the Persian Gulf in a display of military resolve, the
New York Times reported, citing unidentified Pentagon and military officials.

``Russia views this resolution as a serious message being sent to Iran regarding
the need more actively and more openly to cooperate with the IAEA to lift or 
resolve the remaining concerns relating to their nuclear program,'' Russian 
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. ``We hope that Iran will correctly and very 
seriously perceive the contents of this resolution and take the necessary 
measures to redress their situation.''

Blain Rethmeier, a White House spokesman, said Russian President Vladimir Putin 
called President George W. Bush today to discuss Iran. Bush and Putin ``agreed 
on the need to move forward with a resolution in the UN Security Council and 
stressed the importance of maintaining a unified position on Iran's nuclear 
program,'' Rethmeier said.

Oil Prices

The Security Council action will likely add to tensions in the region and may 
contribute to rising oil prices in 2007, according to Ian Bremmer, president of 
the Eurasia Group, a New York-based organization that analyzes political risk 
for businesses. Iran is the second-biggest oil producer in the Middle East.

``Oil markets won't move very much on this resolution,'' Bremmer said. ``But we 
think Iran is one of the biggest risks out there and that there will be 
escalation of tensions in 2007 as Iran retaliates. They can disrupt markets by 
driving proxy wars in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.''

Senior Iranian lawmakers said today that their parliament might retaliate by 
blocking inspections by the IAEA, according to IRNA, the state-run Iranian news 
agency. Legislation to suspend inspections has been passed by the parliament's 
security and foreign affairs committee, the agency reported.

At the UN, Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif said suspension of enrichment 
activities was ``not a solution,'' and was instead a ``temporary, stop-gap 
measure'' that didn't work from November 2003 to February 2006. He said the 
``days of bullying, pressure and intimidation by some nuclear-weapons holders 
are gone.''


Zarif said the Security Council was guilty of hypocrisy for taking no action 
against Israel after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to confirm recently 
that Israel has nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and its European allies, which ``pushed this council to take groundless
punitive measures against Iran's peaceful nuclear program, have systematically 
prevented any action to nudge the Israeli regime towards submitting itself to 
the rules governing the nuclear non-proliferation regime,'' Zarif said.

Russia agreed to vote for the resolution after Britain, France and Germany 
dropped a proposed travel ban on Iranian officials and narrowed the scope of the
trade embargo to ``proliferation sensitive'' materials and technology. An 
earlier version of the text, first circulated in October, would have banned any 
item that could contribute to Iran's nuclear or missile programs.

Nuclear Power Plant

The resolution's sponsors also deleted any mention of the Bushehr commercial 
nuclear power plant that Russia is helping Iran build. An earlier text would 
have barred delivery of fuel to the plant.

``It is an important symbolic move, but it is hard to see that this puts 
sufficient pain on Iran to compel it to do anything,'' said Bruce Reidel, senior
fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. ``At best, this is a warning 
shot across the bow of the Iranian state, a long way from authorizing the use of

Iran ignored a July 31 resolution requiring it to suspend enrichment activities 
by Aug. 31, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pronounced ah-ma-deen-ah-ZHAD, 
has said his government will continue its nuclear program.

The resolution creates a Security Council committee to monitor implementation of
the sanctions and calls on UN member nations to ``exercise vigilance'' regarding
the international travel of the 12 Iranian officials and any ``specialized 
teaching or training'' of Iranian nationals.

UN member governments are to report to the committee within 60 days on steps 
they have taken to implement the resolution.

Iranian Compliance

The sanctions would be suspended by Iran's decision to suspend enrichment 
activities and terminated by a report that the government in Tehran has complied
with all UN Security Council and IAEA requirements.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in a conference call with reporters 
that the U.S. would follow the vote with new efforts to persuade other nations 
to enact the same type of financial and trade sanctions on Iran that the U.S. 
has had in place for 27 years.

``Russia and China tell us that want to deny Iran a nuclear weapons 
capability,'' Burns said. ``We want to see more vigorous action by them. We 
would like to see them stop selling arms to Iran and limit export credits to 
Iran. We think it is time to an end for business as usual.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner in the United Nations at 
•••@••.••• .

Last Updated: December 23, 2006 15:26 EST

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