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UN Security Council Adopts Tough New Round of Iran Sanctions

  • Margaret Besheer

The U.N. Security Council has adopted a fourth round of tough new sanctions aimed at halting Iran's suspect nuclear program. The resolution was approved Wednesday with 12 countries voting for, two against and one abstention, reflecting some division among the 15-member council.

Brazil and Turkey were the two dissenters in the vote, while Lebanon abstained.

Brazilian Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti said the recent efforts by Brazil and Turkey to negotiate a deal with Iran had not been given enough time to work. Under the two countries' plan, Iran would send some of its uranium to Turkey in exchange for fuel for use in a Tehran medical research reactor.

"The Brazilian government deeply regrets, therefore, that the joint declaration has neither received the political recognition it deserves nor been given the time it needs to bear fruit," said Ribeiro Viotti. "Brazil considers it unnatural to rush to sanctions before the parties concerned can sit and talk about the implementation of the declaration."

Her Turkish counterpart, Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, expressed a similar view. He said Ankara's decision to vote 'no' was also based, in part, on the timing of the announcement earlier Wednesday by the United States, France and Russia rejecting the fuel swap deal negotiated by Turkey and Brazil. But he stressed that despite its "no" vote, Turkey believes Iran must answer concerns about the nature of its nuclear program.

"Our vote against the resolution today should not be construed as indifference to the problems emanating from Iran's nuclear program," said Apakan. "There are serious question marks within the international community regarding the purpose and nature of Iran's program and these need to be clarified."

Resolution 1929 increases the pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear activities and come to the negotiating table. Among the new measures are an expanded arms embargo and a ban on certain ballistic missile activities. Additionally, there are new restrictions on Iran's financial and insurance sectors and a cargo inspection regime intended to prevent Iran from smuggling in prohibited items.

The resolution also imposes sanctions on 40 new entities linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, and one individual - Javad Rahiqi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said this fourth round of sanctions was warranted because Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment activities but rather has increased its defiant behavior in recent months.

"Last September, the world learned that Iran had secretly built another uranium-enrichment facility at Qom, in clear violation of Security Council resolutions and Iran's IAEA obligations," said Rice. "Last November, Iran announced that it would build 10 more such facilities. In February, Iran said that it would begin to enrich uranium to nearly 20 percent-moving, closer to weapons-grade material."

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the resolution sends an "unmistakable message" about the world's commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

The resolution was primarily drafted and negotiated among the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States - plus Germany. After the vote, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant read a statement on behalf of the group's foreign ministers, which said the door to continued negotiation would remain open.

"The aim of our efforts is to achieve a comprehensive and long-term settlement which would restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, while respecting Iran's legitimate rights to the peaceful use of atomic energy," said Lyall Grant.

Iran has denied charges that its nuclear program is for military use, arguing the goal is to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes only. Tehran's U.N. Ambassador, Mohammed Khazaee, lectured the council after the vote, and said "no amount of pressure and mischief" will break Iran's "determination to pursue and defend its legal and inalienable rights."