United Nations: The United Nations Security Council has unanimously voted to impose new sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment programme, a move that entails a ban on its arms export, restricts financial aid to the country and targets the elite Revolutionary Guards.
Iran promptly rejected the resolution and questioned its legality.
Asserting that its programme was for peaceful purpose, Tehran told the 15-members Council minutes after it had adopted the resolution that “suspension (of its uranium enrichment programme) is neither an option nor a solution.”
The resolution was passed in the backdrop of accelerating tension between London and Tehran over Iran seizing 15 British marines and accusing them of operating in its territorial waters.
The British diplomats denied that the resolution and seizing of its marines are connected but analysts noted that London had been an advocate of strong sanctions against Iran and the incident occurred just as the Council was preparing to vote on the resolution.
The major powers are counting on the factions inside Iran who oppose the hardline policies of the current regime and are prepared to compromise to “avoid isolation.”
Addressing the Council after the vote, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused the five permanent veto wielding members, especially the United States, of trying the enhance their agendas at the cost of world peace and security and asserted it would adversely affect the credibility of the Council as also the multilateral processes as developing nations would lose faith in both.
The new sanctions ban Iran’s arm exports, expand the list of individuals and entities whose worldwide assets the previous resolution sought to freeze, target state-owned bank Sepah and asks member States to observe caution while transferring heavy weaponry to Tehran.
But analysts noted that Iran exports of arms are very little and mostly it supplies weapons to the militant organizations it supports which apparently do not pay for them. Thus the provision has limited value.
The resolution stopped short of banning import of conventional weapons by Iran in face of strong resistance from Russia which has billions of dollars worth of arms deals with Tehran.
It also did not touch the Iranian oil exports because of fears it would send the gasoline prices sky rocketing.
“The world must know — and it does — that even the harshest political and economic sanctions and other threats are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands,” Mottaki told the Council referring to its uranium enrichment programme.
But he demanded dropping of the “unfair and unacceptable precondition” by the United States and its allies that Tehran suspend its uranium enrichment programme as the price for returning to negotiations over it nuclear programme.
However, western diplomats asserted that the resolution sends a strong signal to Iran that the international community solidly behind the demand Iran stop uranium enrichment programme and will not tolerate a nuclear weapon armed Tehran.