Summary of UN Security Council 5500th Meeting: Security Council Demands Iran Suspend Uranium Enrichment by 31 August, or Face Possible Economic, Diplomatic Sanctions Resolution 1696 (2006) Adopted by a Vote of 14-1

UN Department of Public Information-News Media Division
July 31, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
The Security Council, seriously concerned that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was still unable to provide assurances about Iran's undeclared nuclear material and activities after more than three years, today demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and gave it one month to do so or face the possibility of economic and diplomatic sanctions to give effect to its decision.

Adopting resolution 1696 (2006), under Chapter VII, by a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against (Qatar), the Council expressed its conviction that such suspension, as well as full, verified Iranian compliance with the IAEA Board of Governor's requirements, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guaranteed Iran's nuclear programme was for exclusively peaceful purposes.

The 15-member body called on Iran to without further delay take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14, which it said were essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of the nuclear programme and resolve outstanding questions. It, meanwhile, underlined the international community's willingness to work positively for such a solution and encouraged Iran to reengage with the international community and IAEA.

The Council endorsed the proposals of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union's High Representative, for a long-term comprehensive arrangement, which would allow for the development of relations with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.

Speaking after the adoption of the text, Qatar's representative said he had not approved of proceeding with the vote when his region was "inflamed". Proceeding to action at the present critical time neither served regional security nor Council unity. There was no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means to identify Iran's real intentions and the degree of its readiness to cooperate, especially since it had not rejected the package presented to it (by the six countries); it had only asked for some time to reply. The Council had certainly waited longer to act on questions of greater urgency. Qatar was totally committed to ensuring nuclear non-proliferation and ridding the Middle East of those weapons, but failure to take into account the above mentioned concerns, as well as the prevailing conditions in his region, was not helpful, he said.

The United States speaker said that, sadly, Iran had defied the international community by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and that demanded a strong response from the Council. The pursuit of nuclear weapons was a direct threat to international peace and security, and demanded a clear statement by the Council in the form of a tough resolution. It sent an unambiguous message to Iran, namely to take the steps set out by the IAEA Board of Governors, including full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Iran should understand that the United States and others would ensure that financial transactions associated with proliferation activities would be impeded. The text was the first Council resolution on Iran in response to its nuclear programme, reflecting the gravity of the situation and the Council's determination.

Iran's representative asserted that its peaceful nuclear programme posed no threat to international peace and security, and, therefore, dealing with the issue in the Security Council was unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility. Far from reflecting the international community's concerns, the sponsors' approach flouted the stated position of the overwhelming majority of Member States. Today's action by the Council, which was the culmination of efforts aimed at making the suspension of uranium enrichment mandatory, violated international law, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and IAEA resolutions. It also ran counter to the views of the majority of United Nations Member States, which the Council was obliged to represent. The sole reason for pushing the Council to take action was that Iran had decided, after over two years of negotiations, to resume the exercise of its inalienable right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, by partially reopening its fully safeguarded facilities and ending a voluntary suspension.

Iran's right to enrich uranium was recognized under the NPT, he said. And, upholding the right of State parties to international regimes was as essential as ensuring respect for their obligations. Those regimes, including the NPT, were sustained by a balance between rights and obligations. Threats would not sustain the NPT or other international regimes, but ensuring that members could draw rightful benefits from membership, and that non-members were not rewarded for their intransigence, did. Yet, today, the world was witnessing a dangerous trend. While members of the NPT were denied their rights and punished, those who defied the NPT, particularly the perpetrators of the current carnage in Lebanon and Palestine, were rewarded by generous nuclear cooperation agreements. "This is one awkward way to safeguard the NPT or ensure its universality", he said.

The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 11:25 a.m.