UN Security Council Passes New Sanctions Against Iran

The new sanctions, a modest increase from previous rounds, took months to negotiate but still did not carry the symbolic weight of a unanimous Security Council decision. Twelve of the 15 nations voted for the measure, while Turkey and Brazil voted against and Lebanon abstained.

Beyond the restrictions imposed by the sanctions themselves, the vote sets stage for harsher measures that the United States and the European Union have promised to enact on their own once they had the imprimatur of the United Nations. European leaders are likely to discuss new measures at a summit in mid June.

Iran has defied repeated demands from the Security Council to stop enriching nuclear fuel. It has built new, sometimes secret, centrifuge plants needed to enrich uranium — and enriched it at ever higher levels. These actions have raised suspicions in the West that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, although leaders in Tehran insist their nuclear program is peaceful.

Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said the body had “risen to its responsibilities” by approving the measure, and that “now Iran should choose a wiser course.”

“Until the world’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear defiance are fully resolved, we must work together to ensure that the sanctions in this resolution are fully and firmly implemented,” she told the Security Council after the vote.

Diplomats from Brazil and Turkey, which negotiated a deal with Iran to send some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for access to fuel for a medical reactor, criticized the sanctions, saying they could undermine further attempts at diplomacy.

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil’s representative to the United Nations, said “we do not see sanctions as an effective instrument in this case.”The five permanent Security Council nations that negotiated the new sanctions — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — along with Germany, also left the door open to new diplomacy. The resolution contained the full text of a 2008 offer for increased civilian nuclear cooperation in exchange for Iran stopping enrichment.

The main thrust of the sanctions is against military, trade and financial transactions carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the nuclear program and has taken a more central role in running the country and the economy.

The sanctions ratchet up the measures previously taken against 40 individuals, putting them under a travel ban and asset freeze, but adds just one name to the list — Javad Rahiqi, 56, the head of the Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center.

The sanctions require countries to inspect ships or planes headed to or from Iran if they suspect banned cargo is aboard, but there is no authorization to board ships forcefully at sea. Another added element bars all countries from allowing Iran to invest in nuclear enrichment plants, uranium mines and other nuclear-related technology.

The United States had sought broader measures against Iranian banks, its insurance industry and other trade, but China and Russia were adamant that the sanctions not affect the day-to-day economy. Washington and Beijing were wrangling down to the last day over which banks to include on the list, diplomats said, and in the end only one appeared on the list of the 40 new companies to be blacklisted.

Even after China agreed to negotiate with the other Security Council members, its opening position opposed any new sanctions, said a United States official involved in the negotiations. That stance meant that new measures took months to negotiate. “With time we got a resolution that we felt was very meaningful and credible and significant,” Ms. Rice said in an interview before the vote. “But had we wanted a low ball, low impact resolution we could have had that in a very short period of time. “

In the end, both the energy sector and the Central Bank were mentioned with somewhat tortured wording in the opening paragraphs. That is enough to pursue companies dealing with both, American officials said. New York Times