UN approves new sanctions on Iran

The UN Security Council has voted in favour of new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favour of measures including asset freezes and travel bans for Iranian officials. Indonesia abstained.

Western powers suspect Iran may be developing nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful power generation only.

Tehran has refused to comply with demands that it stop enriching uranium.

This can be undertaken for power generation, but may also be a precursor to building an atomic bomb.

This third sanctions resolution - formally submitted by France and Britain - adds to resolutions adopted in 2006 and 2007.

It calls for the foreign assets of 13 Iranian companies to be frozen, and imposes travel bans on five Iranian officials.

It imposes a ban on the sale to Iran of so-called dual-use items - which can have either a military or civilian purpose.

The measures are in a sense lowest common denominator sanctions that even China and Russia - who maintain closer links with Iran than the Western powers - would support, says the BBC's Laura Trevelyan at the UN in New York.

Both China and Russia are permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

Iranian anger

The resolution received the backing of all five permanent members - also including France, Britain, and the US.

The non-permanent members - none of whom holds a veto - all backed it, except Indonesia, which abstained, saying it remained to be convinced of the necessity of the sanctions.

The vote had been planned for Saturday, but was delayed to give the sponsors time to try to win over four members - Indonesia, Libya, South Africa and Vietnam - who had expressed doubts.

In a statement before the vote, Iran's envoy to the UN, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, described the resolution as politically motivated, illegal, and illegitimate.

He insisted Iran's nuclear programme "has been, is, and will remain, absolutely peaceful".

He said Iran would ignore the sanctions.


In remarks to reporters, the British envoy to the UN, John Sawers, said the five permanent council members would ask the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana to meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator to try to resolve the impasse with Tehran.

He restated a European offer to assist Tehran with its civilian nuclear programme, in exchange for the suspension of uranium enrichment.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported in February that Iran had cleared up most of the outstanding questions regarding its past nuclear activities.

But the IAEA has criticised Iran for refusing to clarify remaining questions about intelligence suggesting Tehran may have been exploring ways to "weaponise" nuclear materials.

Mr Soltanieh has dismissed the intelligence as "forged and fabricated".

He said in Vienna after a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board that "all the outstanding issues have been concluded".

Earlier on Monday, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei called on Iran "to be as active and co-operative as possible in working with the agency" to resolve the issue.


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