Sunday, December 13, 2009

Iran: ...tick, tock, tick, tock...

From the Voice of America, 10 December 2009, by Margaret Besheer in the The United Nations:

US, UK and France say they will seek new sanctions against Iran if it does not comply with existing UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it end uranium-enriching activities and come to the negotiating table. Discussion of new sanctions resolution could begin early next year.

Japan's U.N. ambassador, who heads the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iran, briefed the council on violations of existing resolutions that have taken place during the last three months.

Later, Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant outlined those violations to reporters.

"This report set out a pattern of violations by Iran of Security Council resolutions -- including the illegal export, two illegal exports, of shipments of arms from Iran in direct contradiction of resolution 1747," he said. "And if you add this together with the continued uranium enrichment activities of Iran, in violation of Security Council resolutions -- of Iran's failure to answer questions to the IAEA about its weaponization activities, the revelation of a secret enrichment site at Qom, and Iran's rejection of the offer over the Tehran Nuclear Research Reactor -- then I think you can see there is clearly this pattern of violations of international obligations and an unwillingness of Iran to negotiate seriously with the international community over the nuclear issue," he said.

He said ministers in the group known as the P5 plus 1 - the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany - would be making their assessment in the coming weeks and that if it is negative, he would expect the council to take up the sanctions discussion in early January....

...U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice ...told reporters that Iran's violations need to be treated "urgently and seriously" and that the United States is ready to turn up the pressure...

...But Russia and China -- the other two permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council, and who have oil and trade ties with Iran -- were much more restrained in their remarks...

Background briefing, from Reuters, Friday December 11, 2009:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday he expected the international community to impose significant additional sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iran's pledges in Geneva talks last October won itself a reprieve from further sanctions but Western powers stressed they would not wait indefinitely for Tehran to follow through.

A senior U.S. official said the United States and its allies would decide early next year whether to pursue more sanctions.

Following are some details of the sanctions already imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations:


-- The Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran, in December 2006, March 2007 and March 2008.

-- The first covered sensitive nuclear materials and froze the assets of Iranian individuals and companies linked with the nuclear programme. It gave Iran 60 days to suspend uranium enrichment, a deadline Iran ignored.

-- The second included new arms and financial sanctions. It extended an asset freeze to 28 more groups, companies and individuals engaged in or supporting sensitive nuclear work or development of ballistic missiles, including the state-run Bank Sepah and firms controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

-- The resolution invoked Chapter 7, Article 41 of the U.N. Charter, making most of its provisions mandatory but excluding military action. Iran again ignored an order to halt enrichment.

-- The third measure increased travel and financial curbs on individuals and companies and made some of them mandatory. It expanded a partial ban on trade in items with both civilian and military uses to cover sales of all such technology to Iran, and added 13 individuals and 12 companies to the list of those suspected of aiding Iran's nuclear and missile programmes. In Sept. 2008, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution again ordering Iran to halt enrichment, but imposed no more sanctions, due to opposition from Russia and China.


-- Sanctions imposed after Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took diplomats hostage in 1979 included a ban on most U.S.-Iran trade.

-- In 1995, President Bill Clinton issued executive orders preventing U.S. companies from investing in Iranian oil and gas and trading with Iran. Tehran has found other willing customers.

-- Also in 1995, Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act requiring the U.S. government to impose sanctions on foreign firms investing more than $20 million a year in Iran's energy sector. It was extended for five years in September 2006. No foreign firms have been penalised. The U.S. terminated the applicability of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act to Libya in 2004.

-- In Oct. 2007 Washington imposed sanctions on Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat and branded the Revolutionary Guards a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. Two years later, in Oct. 2009, the Treasury also sanctioned Bank Mellat in Malaysia and its chairman.

-- At the end of October, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law legislation to punish foreign oil companies that export gasoline to Iran, marking the first time Congress has imposed economic sanctions on Iran to protest its nuclear programme. The new law blocks the U.S. Energy Department from awarding contracts to companies to deliver crude oil to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve if they also sell or ship gasoline to Iran.


-- The EU has imposed visa bans on senior officials such as Revolutionary Guards head Mohammad Ali Jafari, former Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and former atomic energy chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh, and on top nuclear and ballistic experts.

-- Britain said on June 18 that Iranian assets frozen in Britain under EU and U.N. sanctions totalled 976 million pounds ($1.59 billion).

-- Britain announced on Oct. 12 that it was freezing business ties with Bank Mellat and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, both of which have previously faced sanctions from the United States. Britain cited fears they were involved in helping Iran develop nuclear weapons.
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