Friday, June 11, 2010

UN "Sanctions" against Iran (again...)

From The New York Times, June 9, 2010, by NEIL MacFARQUHAR*:

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council leveled its fourth round of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, but the measures did little to overcome widespread doubts that they — or even the additional steps pledged by American and European officials — would accomplish the Council’s longstanding goal: halting Iran’s production of nuclear fuel.

The new resolution, hailed by President Obama as delivering “the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government,” took months to negotiate and major concessions by American officials, but still failed to carry the symbolic weight of a unanimous decision. Twelve of the 15 nations on the Council voted for the measure, while Turkey and Brazil voted against it and Lebanon abstained.

...But Iran has defied repeated demands from the Security Council to stop enriching nuclear fuel, and immediately vowed to disregard the new sanctions as well. Despite earlier resolutions, Iran has built new, sometimes secret, centrifuge plants needed to enrich uranium — and has enriched it to higher levels of purity.

The main thrust of the sanctions is against military purchases, 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. ...

...Diplomats from Brazil and Turkey, which negotiated a deal with Iran last month to send some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for access to fuel for a medical reactor, criticized the sanctions as derailing a fresh chance for diplomacy.

...Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, offered few indications of being swayed by the current resolution, saying during a visit to Tajikistan that sanctions are “annoying flies, like a used tissue.”

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, also enumerated a long list of grievances over what he called outside interference in Iranian affairs, vowing before the Security Council that Iran would “never bow.”

...The United States had sought broader measures against Iran’s banks, insurance industry and other trade, but China and Russia were adamant that the sanctions not affect Iran’s 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 40 new companies to be blacklisted.

The Chinese ambassador, Li Baodong, said his country’s conditions on the sanctions were that they not harm the world economic recovery and not affect the Iranian people or normal trade.

...On the economic front, studies by the United States government have cast doubt on the efficacy of sanctions, and the World Trade Organization’s Web site indicates that major buyers of Iranian exports include Japan, the European Union, China and India.

“Not too shabby for an alleged pariah state,” said Steven E. Miller, the director of the International Security Program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “It does sort of raise the question of who exactly we are persuading with our relentless campaign to isolate Iran.”

Restricting a few dozen additional companies “would seem like a thin reed on which to base a policy,” Mr. Miller added. “I think that by default we end up with sanctions because we don’t know what else to do.”

*Mark Landler contributed reporting from Bogotá, Colombia, and David E. Sanger from Washington.
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