The Security Council today approved a new round of sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment and heavy-water-related projects, as had been required in resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006) and 1747 (2007), and for taking issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) right to verify design information provided to it.
Adopting resolution 1803 (2008) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Indonesia), the Council, acting under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter [regarding binding measures not involving armed force], the Council affirmed its earlier decision that Iran should, without delay, suspend the aforementioned activities, as required in paragraph 2 of resolution 1737 (Press Release SC/8928 of 23 December 2006).
The Council called upon all States to exercise "vigilance and restraint" regarding entry into or transit through their territories of individuals engaged in or providing support for Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems.
In that connection, it decided that all States should notify the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 18 of resolution 1737 (2007) of such entry or transit, specifically of those people mentioned in the annex to resolution 1737, annex I to resolution 1747 (Press Release SC/8980 of 24 March 2007), or annex I and annex II (regarding procurement of prohibited items) of the current resolution, as well of additional persons so designated by the Council or the Committee.
The Council further extended the freezing of the financial assets of persons or entities supporting its proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems, including those mentioned in annexes I and II of the current resolution or designated by the Committee.
It called upon all States to exercise vigilance over the activities of financial institutions in their territories with all banks domiciled in Iran, in particular with Bank Melli and Bank Saderat.
The Council also continued the blocking of the import and export of sensitive nuclear material and equipment, except when meant exclusively for use in light-water reactors with advance notice to the Committee.
States were also called upon to inspect cargo to and from Iran of aircraft and vessels owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line, provided "reasonable grounds" existed to believe that the aircraft or vessel was transporting prohibited goods.
The Council welcomed the agreement between Iran and IAEA to resolve all outstanding issues concerning Iran's nuclear programme, and progress made in that regard, as set out in the Director General's report of 22 February 2008 (GOV/2008/4). In that context, it stressed the willingness of China, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States to enhance diplomatic efforts to promote resumption of dialogue with Iran, with a view to seeking long-term solution of the issue that would allow for wider cooperation and, inter alia, the start of direct talks.
The Council would suspend the sanctions if and for so long as Iran would suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, as verified by IAEA, but warned that, in the event Iran did not comply with relevant Council resolutions, it would decide on the adoption of further appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII.
At the outset of the meeting, Iran's representative said: "Today's action of some members of the Security Council against Iran's peaceful nuclear programme, along with the measures taken in this regard in the past, do not meet the minimum standards of legitimacy and legality." Iran's nuclear programme had been and would remain absolutely peaceful and in no way posed any threat to international peace and security. It, therefore, did not fall within the Council's purview. The peaceful nature of his country's nuclear programme had been confirmed by each and every IAEA report in the past several years.
By resolving the outstanding issues with regard to Iran's past activities on the one hand, and conducting all its present activities, including the enrichment, under the full and continuous monitoring of the Agency, the country had removed any so-called "concerns" or "ambiguities" with regard to its peaceful nuclear activities in the past and at present, he said.
He said the Council's behaviour in undermining the credibility and integrity of the Agency would only serve the interests of those who preferred to ignore IAEA, such as the Israeli regime, which, with hundreds of nuclear warheads in its possession, posed the most serious threat to international and regional peace and security. The future security of the world depended on how the United Nations, and especially the Security Council, functioned in a just and impartial manner. In reality, peoples across the globe had now lost their trust in the Council and considered its actions the result of political pressure exerted by a few Powers to advance their own agendas.
Although most Council members said they had voted in favour of the resolution because of Iran's non-compliance with Council demands, as well as the IAEA stance that it could not guarantee that Iran's nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes only, Indonesia's representative, explaining his abstention, said: "Essentially, we are not convinced whether more sanctions, however incremental, well targeted and reversible, would move us forward in resolving the question of Iran's nuclear programme." Conditions today were different than at the adoption of resolution 1747 (2007). Iran was cooperating with IAEA and, at the present juncture, more sanctions were not the best course.
The representative of the United Kingdom read a statement agreed by the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States, with support of the High Representative of the European Union, saying that today's Council action reflected the international community's ongoing serious concerns about the proliferation risks of the Iranian nuclear programme. "We deplore Iran's continued failure to comply with its United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Board requirements, in particular by expanding its enrichment-related activities."
Calling upon Iran to heed the requirements of the Council and the Agency, including the suspension of enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, he said that the group of countries remained committed to an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and reaffirmed their commitment to a dual-track approach. Proposals presented to Iran in June 2006 offered "substantial opportunities" for political, security and economic benefits to Iran and the region. He urged Iran to take the opportunity to find a negotiated way forward.
The representative of the United States added that the international community had good reason to be concerned about Iran's activities, as the present regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose a greater potential danger to the region and to the world. Iran had been funding and supporting terrorists and militants in Lebanon, the Palestinian Territory, Iraq and Afghanistan. The President of Iran had embraced the objective of destroying a Member State of the United Nations. The ministerial statement showed a commitment to a diplomatic solution. "It gives us not pleasure, but regret, to have to pass another sanctions resolution. But our vote today demonstrates that the Council will act when countries violate their international obligations," he said.
The representatives of South Africa, Libya, Viet Nam, France, China, Costa Rica, Burkina Faso, Belgium, Panama, Croatia and the Russian Federation also made statements.
The meeting was called to order at 12:45 p.m. and adjourned at 2:55 p.m.
The Security Council met this afternoon to take action on a draft resolution regarding non-proliferation contained in document S/2008/141, sponsored by France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
It also had before it a letter dated 22 February from the Permanent Representative of Iran addressed to the Secretary-General and the Council President (document S/2008/116). In it, the Ambassador writes that the latest report of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General of 22 February (GOV/2008/4) declares the full implementation of the work plan concluded between Iran and IAEA in August 2007 (INFCIRC/711) and, thus, resolution and closure of all outstanding issues. The Director General had stressed that "the Agency has been able to conclude that answers provided by Iran, in accordance with the work plan, are consistent with its findings" and "considers those questions no longer outstanding". The report also clearly attests to the "exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme", both in the past and at present.
He writes that the consideration of Iran's peaceful nuclear programme was imposed on the Council by certain countries out of "mere political motivations and narrow national interests and on the basis of certain pretexts and allegations, which have been totally baseless". The full implementation of the work plan has eliminated those pretexts and allegations. The current and other reports show that Iran is committed to its international obligations and, at the same time, persistent in pursuing and exercising its legal and inalienable rights.
He further states in his letter that, according to the IAEA report, the Agency had recently received from Iran additional information similar to that which Iran had previously provided, pursuant to the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), as well as updated design information. Iran had provided the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and had provided relevant reports. It had also provided access to individuals in response to the Agency's requests.
It had now become clear, says Iran's Permanent Representative, that the country's peaceful nuclear issue should be dealt with by the Agency as the sole pertinent international organization and that safeguards implementation in Iran had to be "in a routine manner from now on". Further, "the Security Council should avoid inflicting more damage to the credibility and authority of IAEA, as well as its own credibility, by persisting in further illegal and illogical engagement and actions pursued by few countries," he writes.