| Ambassador Javad Zarif at the UN on Saturday. (AP)
United Nations, Dec. 23 (Reuters): The UN Security Council voted unanimously today to impose sanctions on Iran’s trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles, a move aimed at getting Tehran to halt uranium enrichment work.
“Today we are placing Iran in the small category of states under Security Council sanctions,” acting US ambassador Alejandro Wolff told the council before the 15-0 vote.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who was successful in watering down parts of the resolution, emphasised that the resolution did not permit any use of force.
Moscow’s earlier hesitation over supporting the resolution prompted a phone call today between President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had reviewed the resolution until the last minute following two months of tough negotiations. Russia is building an $800 million light-water reactor for Tehran that is exempted in the resolution.
The resolution demands Tehran end all research on uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants as well as for bombs, and halt research and development that can make or deliver atomic weapons.
The thrust of the sanctions is a ban on imports and exports of dangerous materials and technology relating to uranium enrichment, reprocessing and heavy-water reactors, as well as ballistic missile delivery systems.
Reacting to the unanimous vote, Iran accused the Security Council of pursuing a double standard in imposing sanctions on what it said was Tehran’s peaceful nuclear programme while ignoring Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
“It is indisputable that nuclear weapons in the hands of the Israeli regime with an unparalleled record of non-compliance with Security Council resolutions ... poses a uniquely grave threat to regional and international peace and security,” said Iranian UN ambassador Javad Zarif.
“The same governments which have pushed this council to take groundless punitive measures against Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme have systematically prevented it from taking any action to nudge the Israeli regime towards submitting itself to the rules governing the nuclear nonproliferation regime,” Zarif told the 15-nation council.
In Iran, parliamentary speaker Gholami Haddaddel told state television Tehran would reconsider its relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, if the resolution passed. He did not elaborate.
Churkin said: “Russia views this resolution as a serious message being sent to Iran regarding the need to more openly and accurately cooperate with the IAEA to lift or resolve the remaining concerns and questions relating to the nuclear programme.”
The resolution is under Chapter 7 of under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which makes enforcement mandatory.