31 July 2006 Saying that Iran has not taken required steps to assure the world it is not developing nuclear arms, the United Nations Security Council today demanded a suspension of the country’s nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities, threatening sanctions for non-compliance.
Adopted by a vote of 14 to 1, with only Qatar in opposition, the resolution was the Council’s first action on the issue passed under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for enforcement measures.
By the resolution, the Council expressed the intention, in the event that Iran does not comply by the end of August, to “undertake appropriate measures,” under the sanctions clause, “to persuade Iran to comply with this resolution,” underlining, however, that sanctions could not be applied without another Council decision.
In the meantime, however, the Council called on all States to prevent the transfer to Iran of materials and technology that could be used in enrichment, reprocessing or ballistic missile programmes.
The Council said Iran’s compliance with this resolution would have to be confirmed by a report requested at the end of next month from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world body’s nuclear watchdog, which, in a series of previous reports this year, has been unable to verify that Iran’s nuclear programme was peaceful, though it had not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.
In March 2006, the IAEA referred the issue to the Security Council, which issued a statement at that time calling for a similar suspension, saying that compliance would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution to the stalemate.
After Iran failed to respond to that call by the required deadline, the Council took up the issue again in May, while the body’s permanent members – China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States – along with Germany, were also pursuing a diplomatic solution, offering incentives to Iran for its compliance.
Through today’s resolution, the Council endorsed those efforts, seeking a “long-term, comprehensive arrangement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programmes.”
Iran says its activities are solely for energy purposes but the United States and other countries insist it is clandestinely seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Last August, Tehran rescinded its voluntary suspension of nuclear fuel conversion, which can produce the enriched uranium necessary either for nuclear power generation or for nuclear weapons.
After today’s Council vote, Iran’s representative, Javad Zarif, again maintained the peaceful nature of his country’s nuclear programme, saying “it was not the first time that Iran’s endeavours to stand on its own feet and make technological advances had faced the stiff resistance and concerted pressure of some powers permanently represented in the Council.”
While agreeing with the need to verify Iran’s activities, Nassir bin Abdulaziz al-Nasser, Qatar’s representative, explained that he voted against the resolution because he did not want to proceed when his region was “inflamed.” In addition, he said a few more days could help identify Iran’s real intentions, especially since it had not rejected the diplomatic initiatives, but had only asked for more time.