U.N. Backs Broader Sanctions On Tehran

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 26, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to approve a resolution that bans all Iranian arms exports and freezes some of the financial assets of 28 Iranian individuals and entities linked to Iran's military and nuclear agencies.

The 15 to 0 vote came one day after President Mahmoud Admadinejad canceled plans to travel to New York to confront the Security Council, leaving his foreign minister to speak in his place. It unfolded as 15 British sailors and marines seized by Iranian naval forces were transferred to Tehran, escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries. (See story, A12)

The 15-nation panel imposed the latest sanctions in response to Iran's refusal to abide by repeated U.N. demands to stop its most sensitive nuclear activities, including the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

The council also threatened to impose new penalties on Tehran after 60 days if it fails to stop its nuclear activities and provide verifiable assurance that it is not secretly pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The measures adopted Saturday fell far short of the punishing trade, travel and military sanctions initially proposed by the United States and its European partners. But they insisted they were pleased with the outcome.

"We got more than we thought we were going to get" in this resolution, said R. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs. He also said that it criminalizes Iran's military support for extremists and exposes its political isolation. "If Iran has Qatar, a Gulf Arab state; and Indonesia, a Muslim state; and South Africa, a leading member of the nonaligned movement, voting for these sanctions, Iran is in trouble internationally."

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the council after the vote that its action was "unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable" and that "pressure and intimidation" would not force Iran to abandon its right, under the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to develop nuclear energy. He characterized those targeted by the sanctions as "heroes."

"Suspension is neither an option nor a solution," he said. "We realize now that we must be prepared to pay the price for our dignity and our independence."

After the vote, the council's five permanent members -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China -- issued a statement deploring Iran's "failure" to comply with U.N. resolutions but reiterated an offer to talk to Iran to resolve the nuclear standoff.

The resolution goes beyond Iran's nuclear program, targeting individuals and institutions that have been linked to Iran's widening military role in the Middle East.

For instance, the resolution imposes an asset freeze on several commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, including Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds force, which oversees Iran's support for foreign Islamic revolutionary movements -- including Hezbollah, Hamas and Iraqi Shiite militants.

The resolution's widening scope suggests that the United States and its allies are seeking to use the council as part of an effort to contain Iran, and some council members and observers were concerned that Western powers may be using the council to undercut the regime. "Is this aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, or is this regime change in another form?" asked Jean du Preez, director of the international organizations and nonproliferation program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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