The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, a process that could be used either for military or civilian purposes.
The resolution, adopted by a 14 to one vote, also calls on the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I.A.E.A., to report to the Security Council by August 31 whether Iran has complied with the resolution. If not, the U.N. text says the Security Council could adopt 'appropriate measures', diplomatic parlance for economic or political sanctions.
John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, expressed satisfaction with the Council vote. "We are pleased the council has taken clear and firm action in passing this resolution. The pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran constitutes a direct threat to international peace and security and demands a clear statement from the Council in the form of a binding resolution," he said.
Tehran has consistently stated that its nuclear program is only for civilian and peaceful purposes,a view repeated to the Security Council by Iran's U.N. ambassador Javad Zarif. "Iran's peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to the international peace and security,and therefore, dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility," he said.
Experts are divided as to exactly when Iran will be able to get the scientific knowledge to build nuclear bombs. Estimates vary between four to 10 years. But experts agree that Tehran is approaching the point where it can produce, on a large scale,enriched uranium.
For years, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been warning Iran to end its plans to enrich uranium,but to no avail.
Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations, Emyr Jones-Parry, told the Security Council he is deeply concerned about Iran's failure to cooperate fully with the I.A.E.A. "As today's resolution notes, after more than three years, the agency is still unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. Important questions, including on activities with the possible military nuclear dimension, remain unanswered. The international community has shown great patience. We have given Iran many opportunities to show that it has no intention to develop nuclear weapons. Regrettably, Iran has not taken the steps required by the I.A.E.A. Board and the Security Council which would help build confidence," he said.
Jones-Parry urged Iran to comply with the U.N. resolution in order to avoid further action from the Security Council.
Qatar was the only member of the Security Council to vote against the U.N. resolution. Speaking through an interpreter, Qatar's U.N. Ambassador,Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser,said this was not the time to present such a text. "The fact that this draft resolution was tabled at this critical time,this hardly serves the stability of the region, nor the unity of the council. This will only intensify the conflagration in our region,whether we like it or not. Do we really want to see another volcano erupting in the region?," he said.
The Security Council must now wait until the end of August to see if Tehran complies with the U.N. demands.