UN Security Council Passes New Nuclear Sanctions Against Iran

It sanctions 22 entities tied with the Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Malek Ashtar University which is alleged to be connected to Iran's nuclear R&D program. Curiously, the resolution sanctions just one individual, Javad Rahiqi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center. Previous resolutions had added 10 to 15 individuals to the sanctions list.

Iran Sanctions Do Not Target Oil and Gas Sectors

The resolution does not, however, target Iran's lucrative oil and natural gas sector in large part because energy hungry China, which holds veto power on the Security Council, has significant investments there.

"The decision of Turkey and Brazil to vote no on the resolution is a blow to the Obama administration, though one that is offset partially by unity among the Perm-5 [Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States]," said Jacqueline Shire, senior analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security.

"People can disagree over the efficacy of sanctions, the most of the evidence points to a minimal impact, but these sanctions are more than symbolic. Both the political and economic costs of Iran doing business as usual are increasing. The objective now is to find a way back to the negotiating table."

Wednesday's vote was the culmination of months of negotiations lead by the United States and its European allies pushing for tougher measures on Iran.

In October the so-called P5+1, the permanent five members of the Security Council plus Germany, offered Iran a deal whereby much of its uranium stockpile would be sent abroad for enrichment. In return, Iran would receive fuel that could be used in the Tehran Research Reactor for the production of medical isotopes. The deal was designed to take away Iran's uranium stockpiles to prevent it from enriching it to a level that could be used in a nuclear weapon if Tehran decided to pursue one.

Three weeks ago, however, Turkey and Brazil inked a very similar deal with Iran that was not warmly received by the U.S. and its allies. Washington argued that the deal was no longer valid because Iran is believed to have doubled its uranium stockpile since October, meaning even after the swap under the agreement it would have enough uranium left over to create the fuel for a bomb if it wanted to.

This week Brazil and Turkey pushed for open meetings of the Security Council during which they could voice their opposition to the sanctions in light of their diplomatic efforts. In voting against the resolution today, Brazil's U.N. ambassador cited the fuel swap deal with Iran saying additional sanctions would prevent rather than lead to a negotiated solution.

Turkey's ambassador urged the council to allow time for the deal to be implemented before passing sanctions, saying tougher measures now would hurt the diplomatic momentum.

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