U.N. Approves New Round of Sanctions on Iran

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The U.N. Security Council resolved on Wednesday to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Iran by a 12-2 vote.

Turkey and Brazil voted against the resolution on Wednesday, which approved new sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear program that target Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments. Lebanon abstained from the vote.

According to Reuters news agency, the resolution was the result of five months of talks between the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.  The four Western powers had wanted much tougher measures, some targeting Iran's energy sector, but China and Russia pushed to dilute the steps outlined in the 10-page resolution.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called the sanctions the toughest ever, but the measures are still far short of crippling economic punishments or an embargo on oil shipments, a key source of revenue for Iran.

The new resolution bans Iran from pursuing "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons," bars Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibits Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles. It imposes new sanctions on 40 Iranian companies and organizations - 15 linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, 22 involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities and three linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, more than doubling the number of entities now subject to an asset freeze. The resolution also added one new person to the previous list of 40 Iranians subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban and calls on all countries to cooperate in cargo inspections if there are "reasonable grounds" to believe the cargo could contribute to Iranian nuclear program. On the financial side, the resolution calls on countries to block financial transactions with Iran, including insurance and reinsurance, and to ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides "reasonable grounds" to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.

As the Associated Press reports, Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent U.N. council members, brokered a fuel-swap agreement with Iran which they hoped would address concerns Tehran may be enriching uranium for nuclear weapons and avoid new sanctions. Brazil's U.N. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti said sanctions would lead to "suffering" by the Iranian people, delay dialogue on the country's nuclear program, and run contrary to Brazil and Turkey's efforts to engage Tehran.

The Security Council imposed limited sanctions on Iran in December 2006 and has been steadily increasing sanctions in hopes of pressuring Iran to suspend enrichment and start negotiations on its nuclear program. The first two resolutions were adopted unanimously and the third by a vote of 14-0 with Indonesia abstaining.

Iran has repeatedly defied the demand and has stepped up its activities, enriching uranium to 20 percent and announcing plans to build new nuclear facilities. Tehran insists its program is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy. The U.S. and its allies believe Iran's real aim is to produce nuclear weapons and want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and start negotiations on it nuclear program.

The Associated Press reports U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she hoped the new U.N. sanctions imposed yesterday would lead to improved human rights conditions in Iran.  She spoke in Bridgetown, Barbados today.

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH TODAY'S NEWS.

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