Iran Nuclear NewsSecurity Council weighs new sanctions on Iran

Security Council weighs new sanctions on Iran

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New York Times: The Security Council on Thursday began formal consideration of a new resolution on Iran’s nuclear program that imposes restrictions on cargo to and from Iran, travel bans, the freezing of assets for people involved in the program and tightened monitoring of Iranian financial institutions. The New York Times

By WARREN HOGE
Published: February 22, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Thursday began formal consideration of a new resolution on Iran’s nuclear program that imposes restrictions on cargo to and from Iran, travel bans, the freezing of assets for people involved in the program and tightened monitoring of Iranian financial institutions.

Britain and France introduced the measure but said they would leave it open for “further substantive comments” from other Council members next week before pushing for a vote in March.

The tactic was adopted to meet objections from Council members Indonesia, Libya, South Africa and Vietnam, who said they wanted to await the conclusions of a report by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to be made public in Vienna on Friday before committing themselves to a final text.

The measure’s backers argue that the ElBaradei inquiry is about Iran’s atomic past, not its current activities, and should have no bearing on the draft. But they agreed to the continued consideration in the interests of obtaining unanimity among the 15 Council members.

The Council has twice voted unanimously to impose sanctions to stop Iran from enriching uranium, in December 2006 and March 2007. This third measure tightens and extends earlier ones but does not significantly broaden them.

Iran says that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it is entitled to enrich uranium. Western countries say they believe that Iran is trying to build a bomb, and they have pledged to prevent that from happening.

The new sanctions resolution would, for the first time, authorize inspections of cargo on aircraft and vessels, particularly those owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line.

The new measure would also ban all trade and supply of so-called dual-use items, materials and technologies that can have both civilian and military uses.

It also expands the list of Iranian officials and companies subject to sanctions.

In one recommendation that was softened in the drafting process to gain the unanimous support of the 15 Council members that the sponsors seek, the resolution calls on countries to “exercise vigilance” over the activities of financial institutions connected to Iranian banks, in particular Bank Melli and Bank Saderat and their branches and subsidiaries abroad. Western countries originally argued for an outright ban on transactions with both banks.

The text has the backing of the five permanent members of the Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Germany, a sponsor that is not a Council member.

Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador, said, “The assessment is that this is the best you can get, given the present composition of the Security Council.”

Arguing that Iran posed a direct threat to his country, he added, “I am not so naïve to think that this resolution will put an end to it.”

Iran, which has defied the first two resolutions and continued its uranium enrichment, has said it considers the case against its nuclear program closed and will not respond to any additional pressure.

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