Israel: Iran sanctions a good start

UNSC votes 12-2 to impose ‘tough, precise’ measures against Teheran.

UNSC vote on Iran sanctions (photo credit: Associated Press)
UNSC vote on Iran sanctions
(photo credit: Associated Press)
After months of negotiations, the UN Security Council passed a fourth set of sanctions against Iran on Wednesday, in the hope of stopping Teheran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The 15-member Security Council approved the resolution by a vote of 12 to 2, with Lebanon abstaining. Brazil and Turkey, which had been working to broker a deal with Iran ahead of the sanctions vote, voted against.
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After the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the sanctions were “as tough as they are smart and precise.”
The final resolution takes aim at Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and military industry and prohibits Iran from buying certain heavy weapons. It subjects cargo to inspections and names 40 Iranian companies and organizations subject to new sanctions.
It names one individual, Javad Rahiqi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran’s Esfahan Nuclear Technology Center. Finally, it calls on countries to block certain financial transactions.
“Today, the Security Council has responded decisively to the grave threat to international peace and security posed by Iran’s failure to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Rice said. “We are at this point because the government of Iran has chosen clearly and willfully to violate its commitments to the IAEA and the resolutions of this council.”
Despite consistent and longstanding demands by the international community, Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment and other proliferation-related activities.
Israel expects energy-sector sanctions by West
Still, the sanctions fell short of some expectations, with modest increases from previous measures, and the resolution did not garner a unanimous vote in the Security Council.
Israel, which for months has been calling for “crippling” sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector, issued a statement welcoming the new UN sanctions as an “important step,” but saying that additional steps were needed.
“This is the sixth resolution demanding that Iran suspend its enrichments and cooperate with the IAEA,” a carefully worded statement issued by the Foreign Ministry read. “Iran blatantly violated all the previous resolutions, and demonstrates blatant disregard for the international community and its institutions. There is great importance in the full and immediate implementation of this resolution.”
The statement said that it was clear this UN resolution by itself was “not enough,” and that what was necessary now was for additional “significant steps” to be taken by various countries and international groupings.
In an obvious reference to the need to hit the Islamic Republic’s energy sector, the statement read that “only such sanctions that focus on a variety of sectors in Iran are liable to impact on the Iranian decision-making process.”
“Broad and determined” international action was necessary to make clear to Teheran the price of continuing to ignore the international community’s demands, the Foreign Ministry statement said.
“The ramifications of a marriage between Iran’s extremist ideology and nuclear weapons would be catastrophic,” it warned.
Brazil, Turkey remain opposed to sanctions
Ahead of the vote, representatives of Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon criticized the Security Council decision to embrace sanctions. Last month, Brazil and Turkey brokered a deal with Iran to swap low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel.
“We do not see sanctions as an effective institution in this case,” said the Brazilian envoy, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti. Sanctions would “lead to the suffering of the people of Iran,” she said, and they “run counter to efforts of Brazil and Turkey to engage Iran.”
On Wednesday morning, hours ahead of the sanctions vote, the United States, Russia and France rejected the nuclear deal.
“The facts are clear,” the French UN envoy, Gérard Araud, said following the Security Council vote. The council was forced to react firmly, or else send a message to Iran and its allies to “go ahead” and pursue nuclear weapons.
“Iran has spared no effort to avoid the substance of an agreement,” Araud said, accusing Iran of using the agreement as an “alibi to avoid discussion of its nuclear program.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, currently in New York, issued a statement characterizing the decision as “historic” and took a veiled jab at Turkey.
“History will judge the nations according to their vote, and whether they chose narrow, cynical interests, or the interests of peace and stability,” he said.
What was important now was to “supervise the implementation of the sanctions,” Ayalon said.
Obama: Iran only NPT signatory IAEA unconvinced is peaceful
US President Barack Obama called the sanctions the toughest and most comprehensive sanctions ever passed against the Islamic Republic.
“This resolution will put in place the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government, and it sends an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Indeed, Iran is the only NPT signatory in the world – the only one – that cannot convince the IAEA that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes,” he said. “That’s why the international community was compelled to impose these serious consequences.”
The Iranian envoy to the UN, however, accused Security Council members of a “politically motivated” vote. Citing “many false accusations against Iran,” Ambassador Muhammad Khazaee said, “No amount of pressure and mischief will be able to break our nation’s determination to pursue and defend its legal and inalienable rights.”
During the vote, only Lebanon mentioned Israel.
“Israel is the only country in the region who holds nuclear weapons,” the Lebanese representative said. Israel should sign onto the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-weapon state, and submit its facilities to IAEA inspection.
In a statement, the foreign ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US stressed that the door is “open for continued engagement.”
“The aim of our efforts is to achieve a comprehensive and long-term settlement which would restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, while respecting Iran’s legitimate rights to the peaceful use of atomic energy,” the statement said.
Harsher Western sanctions on the way
The resolution is likely to become a precursor for harsher measures from the United States and the European Union, whose leaders are expected to discuss additional measures later this month.
Versions of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act are being finalized in the US Senate and House of Representatives.
“In the coming days, pressure on Iran will only grow,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the new sanctions were “worthless” and should only go into “the trash bin,” in a report cited by Bloomberg News.
Khazaee accused the United States, Britain and their allies of abusing the Security Council to attack his country.
“Iran is one of the most powerful and stable countries in the region and never bowed – and will never bow – to the hostile actions and pressures by these few powers and will continue to defend its rights,” he declared.