6 Powers Agree on Sanctions For Iran

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 16, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, March 15 -- The U.N. Security Council's five major powers and Germany have agreed in principle to ban all Iranian arms exports and freeze the financial assets of 28 Iranian officials and institutions, including several commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The pact was struck as Iran informed the United States that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends to lead a delegation to the United Nations to address the 15-nation council when the resolution is formally adopted, according to Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. The accord requires Iran to halt its enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of nuclear fuel within 60 days or face additional penalties.

The Iranian leader sharply criticized the Security Council's deliberations, saying that sanctions would not deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear program. "Using the Security Council as an instrument, the enemies of Iran want to prevent the progress of the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said at a rally in the town of Ardakan, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. "But the Security Council today has no legitimacy among world nations."

"If all of you gather and also invite your ancestors from hell, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation," he added.

Thursday's agreement marks the first time the Security Council has targeted individuals and institutions not directly involved in Iran's most controversial nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It singles out the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard responsible for training and equipping foreign Islamic revolutionary movements. The group has long backed Shiite militant groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah. U.S. officials maintain that the group has also provided military support to Shiite militias in Iraq.

The agreement ended three weeks of intense negotiations among the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. It was struck only after the United States and its European allies agreed to drop several of the toughest measures, including calls for a travel ban on select Iranian officials, a cutoff of billions of dollars in export credits for companies trading with Iran and a prohibition on arms imports by Iran.

U.S. officials said they had hoped to apply tougher sanctions but faced resistance from key council members such as Russia, a major supplier of arms to Iran. "Our strong preference would have been to limit those arms," said Alejandro D. Wolff, acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. However, some council members favored "an incremental and measured next step," Wolff said.

Ambassadors from the council's 10 nonpermanent members will not hold a meeting on the draft resolution until Wednesday.

Although the resolution prohibits Iran from being able to "supply, sell or transfer" any arms, it merely calls on states to "exercise vigilance and restraint" in selling heavy weapons to Tehran -- including combat aircraft, attack helicopters, battle tanks, warships and missiles.

"I think this is a kind of a fig leaf for the United States," said Flynt Leverett, a former Middle East specialist for the CIA and National Security Council.

Security Council diplomats said the chief purpose of the four-page document is to compel Iran to suspend a number of its most sensitive nuclear activities, including the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of nuclear fuel. If Iran complies, they insist, the sanctions will be lifted. The United States asserts that Iran intends to use the nuclear fuel in a clandestine weapons program. Iran denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its program is designed to generate electricity.

The resolution also calls on governments to "exercise vigilance and restraint" in allowing individuals linked to Iran's most sensitive nuclear programs to travel to their countries. And it targets the financial assets of 10 Iranian institutions involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. However, the draft dropped some of the toughest U.S.-backed financial sanctions, including a ban on more than $20 billion in export credits that European and Asian governments provide to companies that trade with Iran.

The Iranian government has sent a letter to the Security Council president requesting the opportunity to address the body, said Grenell, the U.S. spokesman, and has requested visas for Ahmadinejad and 38 others to enter the United States.

"I find it, again, ironic," said Wolff, the acting U.N. ambassador, "that the person who's quoted today that he tears up Security Council resolutions and has no respect for what the council does is interested in coming to speak to the council."


© 2007 The Washington Post Company