Iran faces third round of UN sanctions

04 March 2008

The United Nations Security Council has authorized further sanctions against Iran over its failure to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and does not fall under the Security Council's remit.

UN Security Council 
Meeting of the UN Security Council (Image: UN)
Fourteen of the fifteen council members voted in favour of Resolution 1803, citing Iran's refusal to suspend "uranium enrichment and heavy-water related projects" as required in earlier resolutions, and "taking issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) right to verify design information provided to it." Indonesia abstained. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has been asked to report back to the Security Council on whether Iran has fully suspended enrichment activities within 90 days.

The resolution adds to two previous rounds of sanctions imposed in 2006 and 2007. Under the latest round of sanctions, travel bans are imposed on five further Iranian officials, 12 Iranian companies face having their assets frozen, and the trade and supply of "dual-use" items (materials and technologies that could potentially have military as well as civilian uses) is banned. UN member states are called on to be vigilant for cargo "reasonably suspected" of transporting prohibited goods to or from Iran, and are asked to step up their monitoring of financial institutions with links to Iranian-based banks, particularly Bank Melli and Bank Saderat.

The resolution was sponsored by China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US, the so-called 5+1 nations. In a statement presented on behalf of the 5+1, with the support of the European Union, Ambassador John Sawers of the UK said that those nations remained committed to finding an early negotiated solution to the issue. Urging Iran to take the opportunity to engage in negotiations, the statement noted: "We reiterate our recognition of Iran's right to develop, research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with its NPT obligations." The statement confirmed that the 5+1 nations had asked Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, to meet with Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, in a move towards the opening of negotiations.

In a separate statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, Mohammed ElBaradei said that the agency has been able to clarify outstanding issues on the scope and nature of Iran's uranium enrichment programme. After initial reluctance, Iran had now agreed on a work plan to address one outstanding issue, alleged studies on "weaponization activities". He called on Iran to be as "active and cooperative as possible."

European states were reported to have dropped a resolution against Iran at the IAEA meeting following pressure by Russia, China and developing nations. According to press reports, the resolution to the IAEA from Britain, France and Germany was dropped in the wake of the UN sanctions after other nations voiced opinions that it would be superfluous and could even provoke Iran to reduce, rather than increase, cooperation with UN inspectors. The three countries behind the resolution felt their goals had been achieved through the UN Security Council decision and there was "no point risking a schism" among policymakers, press reports said.

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