China, Russia support Iran sanctions
Jerusalem: Text doesn’t go far enough, ‘crippling’ measures necessary.
Obama talks with South Korean President Lee Myung- Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS
The United States
and its Western allies won crucial support from Russia and China for new
sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, but face a tough
campaign to get backing from the rest of the UN Security Council.“I am optimistic about the
results,” he said in Brasilia.
draft resolution would ban Iran from pursuing “any activity related to
ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” freeze assets
of nuclear-related companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard, bar
Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit
Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons, including attack
helicopters and missiles.
It would also call on all countries to
cooperate in cargo inspections – which must receive the consent of the
ship’s flag state – if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe these
activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
financial side, the draft calls on – but does not require – countries
to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance,
and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if the countries have information
that provides “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could
contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
A government official
in Jerusalem responded to the sanctions draft by saying that while
Israel supported the actions in the UN Security Council, it “believes
the only way sanctions can be effective is if they are crippling
sanctions that target both the export and import of petroleum products.
We need to see crippling sanctions that bite.” The official acknowledged
that the draft sanctions do not fit that characterization.
round of UN sanctions based on the draft would only be “of symbolic
importance,” because it would demonstrate that the international
community was still very concerned about the issue, he said, adding that
along with the UN moves, countries committed to stopping Iran must
impose crippling sanctions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has
been saying for months that the only sanctions that would impact the
Iranians would be those leveled against the country’s energy sector.
powers back new Iran sanctions
Iran: Draft UN
sanctions resolution 'Illegitimate'
rejects UN sanctions threat
Tuesday morning, Netanyahu convened the forum of his closest ministers,
known as the “septet,” and, among other issues, discussed the deal
brokered by Brazil and Turkey on Monday, whereby Iran would transfer
some of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey. The consensus among the
participants at that meeting was that the move was an Iranian
Iranian Vice President Mehdi Mostafavi dismissed the
current sanctions push, saying it was nothing new.
countries stand by Iran’s side in the nuclear field. So if a few other
countries, including the Americans, differ, then it is not important for
us,” Mostafavi told reporters on Wednesday in Beirut, where he will be
attending a Christian-Muslim dialogue conference.
appeared to be a significant victory for the Obama administration, which
has doggedly pursued sanctions since Iran rebuffed US overtures last
Russia and China, which have close ties to Iran and could
veto any resolution, joined fellow permanent council members Britain,
France and the United States, as well as non-member Germany, in
supporting the sanctions proposal.
Both Russia and China resisted
sanctions before they were persuaded to support the stepped-up pressure
on Iran in recent weeks. Proposed sanctions relating to Iran’s oil and
gas industry were removed due to opposition from the two countries,
which have vast investments and interests in Iran’s energy sector.
UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the final draft was acceptable
because it was “focused adequately on nonproliferation matters” and
didn’t cause “humanitarian damage” or create problems for normal
economic activities in Iran and for the country’s economic relations
with other countries.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a
Senate committee that she spent Tuesday on the phone with Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “finalizing the resolution.”
Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov “expressed anxiety” in his talk
with Clinton about reports that the United States and European Union
might undertake unilateral sanctions against Iran, beyond measures
agreed to by the Security Council.
At least three
of the 10
nonpermanent Security Council members – Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon –
have expressed opposition to new sanctions.
Brazil tight lipped on new sanctions
The US introduced the
draft sanctions resolution at a closed council meeting on Tuesday, but
Brazil announced afterward that that it wouldn’t even discuss it “at
this point,” because it wanted to focus on the nuclear swap agreement
that Iran signed on Monday with Brazil and Turkey.
The deal would
take 1,200 kilograms, about 2,600 pounds, of low-enriched uranium out
of Iran for a year and return higher-enriched uranium for a medical
research reactor in Teheran. That’s the same amount as under a tentative
October agreement negotiated by the US, Russia, France and Iran and
endorsed by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
there is a new situation,” said Brazil’s UN Ambassador Maria Luiza
Ribeiro Viotti, adding that Iran’s first signed commitment to the
nuclear swap “creates a confidence building atmosphere for further
dialogue and negotiations.”
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso
Amorim conceded that the agreement did not solve all the problems posed
by Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects could lead to the
development of nuclear weapons, but he argued it lays the groundwork for
a peaceful solution to the dispute.
Iranian presidential adviser
Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh
sanctions proposal as “illegitimate.” He was quoted by state TV’s Web
site on Wednesday as saying the draft was an effort to undermine the
deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil.
US Ambassador Susan Rice insisted, however, that the pursuit of new
sanctions has “nothing to do with” the proposed nuclear swap. The
October proposal had been presented as a “confidence-building measure,”
not as a solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff, she said.
Rice stressed that Iran has taken new actions since October and that
even after Monday’s agreement the government announced that it still
planned to enrich uranium to 20 percent. That “not only eliminates any
confidence-building potential” but intensifies Iran’s violation of
existing UN sanctions, she said.
She said she was confident the resolution will get the minimum nine
“yes” votes without a veto needed for adoption by the 15-member
Security Council, but the final tally remains uncertain.