Media Release by Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith on Question Without Notice about Iran Sanctions

June 15, 2010

Mr Speaker, I thank the Member for his question, dealing as it does potentially with the most difficult peace and security issue the international community will be confronted with over the next 12 to 18 months.

On 9 June 2010, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1929 imposing new sanctions against Iran.

Australia welcomed that resolution, which reflected the international community's continuing concerns about Iran's nuclear program and its ongoing failure to be in compliance with its international obligations.

Australia, together with the international community, has repeatedly called on Iran to conduct itself in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and comply with UN Security Council resolutions.

The IAEA's two most recent reports, in February and May this year, both found that Iran continues to enrich uranium in breach of its international obligations and has not provided either the evidence or necessary cooperation to persuade the IAEA that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Mr Speaker, Australia also shares the Security Council's desire for a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, which of course requires Iran to change its policy. We continue to urge Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programs.

Despite these overtures, Mr Speaker, we are disappointed that Iran has not reversed its path. Indeed very many analyse that a path of confrontation with the international community.

UN Security Council Resolution 1929 strengthens obligations on states to prevent the supply to Iran of any goods or services that could contribute to Iran's nuclear industry, proliferation-sensitive nuclear industry and missile delivery and technology programs.

As well it imposes an additional obligation on states to prevent the supply of military equipment and related services to Iran.

The resolution also targets Iran's transport and financial sectors as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in response to the Corps' role in Iran's nuclear activities and the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

The resolution includes new financial sanctions against 41 individuals and entities in Iran.

Australia's United Nations sanction enforcement laws will see those sanctions have immediate effect.

Australia will implement other aspects of the resolution as expeditiously as possible.

Mr Speaker, to reinforce those measures, earlier today I announced that Australia will impose additional autonomous sanctions against one individual and two organisations that assist Iran in its violation of its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Australia has imposed autonomous sanctions against Iran, since October 2008.

Today's announcement will now bring to a total to 21 individuals and 20 organisations subject to Australian autonomous sanctions.

The additional organisations are Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL).

The individual is General Rostam Qasemi, the commander of Khatem ol-Anbiya Construction Organisation, a company owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is expressly referred to in Resolution 1929 and already covered by our autonomous sanctions.

Mr Speaker, we are taking these additional measures to ensure Australia is at the forefront of those countries to put pressure on Iran in this area.

These additional autonomous sanctions, combined with our already rigorous implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including our proposed implementation of Resolution 1929, will continue to ensure that our concern is backed up by action and that our concern matches that of the international community.

As I said in my opening remarks Mr Speaker, this is potentially the single biggest peace and security challenge which the international community faces.

And Australia again calls on Iran to conduct itself in accordance of its international legal obligations and to seek to resolve this matter through a change of policy as quickly as possible.