The 15-mmeber UN Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose new sanctions on Iran over its refusal to end its uranium enrichment program. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau has the details.
The resolution freezes the assets of more than 28 Iranian individuals, companies and institutions, including the state-owned Bank Sepah, commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and companies they control. It also places an embargo on arms exports and calls on members to voluntarily restrict loans and financial assistance to the government of Iran.
The resolution calls on Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements, halt its nuclear enrichment program and return to negotiations over its nuclear program.
Britain, France, and Germany drafted the original resolution. British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the sponsors are pleased that the Council was able to act unanimously after weeks of negotiations to send a clear message to Iran that it must comply with its legal obligations. "This is a legal act by the Security Council requiring Iran to actually implement what we have said. We, therefore, incrementally increased pressure on Iran. It is an appropriate response, but our hope was, and our preference, was to see a negotiated outcome. That is to say that it is open to Iran if she accepts to suspend enrichment and research and development, then we want to get into negotiations, we want to find a better way forward. The choice is Iran's but the offer on the table includes undeniably the development of a civil nuclear capability in Iran," the British ambassador said.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, not producing nuclear weapons, and refuses to suspend the program as a precondition for negotiations. Speaking though an interpreter, Iran's Foreign Minister, Manoucheyhr Mottaki, told the Council that suspension is not an option or a solution. "Iran does not want confrontation nor does it want anything other than its own inalienable rights. I can assure you that pressure, intimidation will not change Iranian policy. The world must know, and it does, that even the harshest political and economic sanctions - or other threats - are far too weak to coerce the Iranian nation to retreat from their legal and legitimate demands," he said.
The new resolution tightens a measure passed in December that prohibited trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles and also froze the assets of individuals and institutions associated with atomic programs.