Archive for Friday, March 16, 2007

U.N. agrees on new Iran sanctions

March 16, 2007

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— The world's major powers agreed Thursday on modest new sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, sending a strong signal that the U.N. Security Council likely will remain united in seeking to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The proposed new sanctions include a ban on Iranian arms exports and financial restrictions against 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in the country's nuclear and missile programs - about a third linked to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard.

The governments of the five veto-wielding permanent council nations - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France - and Germany signed off on the draft resolution, which was then presented to the 10 elected council members.

The nonpermanent members need time to consider the draft and a vote isn't expected before late next week, said South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council president.

Kumalo said he had received a request for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address the council when it votes on the resolution, but no date has been set.

In his first reaction to Thursday's agreement, Ahmadinejad called the Security Council an "illegitimate" body and said that any new sanctions on his country would only push it to be self-sufficient and further develop nuclear technology.

"Today, the Iranian nation fully possesses the nuclear fuel cycle," Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Ardakan, central Iran, addressing his remarks to Western nations, according to state media. "If all of you gather and also invite your ancestors from hell, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation."

Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said a key objective was to preserve the Security Council's unity in support of the new resolution.

"We would like to see the entire council on board," he said. "Our goal is to do this as early as possible."

Iran insists its enrichment program is for the peaceful purpose of generating nuclear energy, but the U.S., European nations and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog are concerned that its goal is to produce nuclear weapons.

In December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose limited sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.

Iran, however, responded by accelerating its enrichment program.

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