Backgrounder: Inside U.S.-initiated sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities

08:50, May 21, 2010      

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With the backing of all veto- wielding nations of the United Nations Security Council, the United States this week introduced a draft resolution that would impose new sanctions on Iran.

The 15-nation Council is likely to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks. If adopted, Iran would be subjected to a fourth round of UN sanctions for continuing to enrich uranium, which the West believes to be intended for weaponization, but Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

A combination of the "dual-track strategy" -- diplomacy and sanctions, the draft resolution is intended to punish Iran's leadership for their continued defiance of the international community and persuade Tehran that it is in its interest to peacefully resolve concerns about its nuclear program.

The sanctions are aimed at bringing Iranians to the negotiation table, and the door of diplomacy is not closed with discussions of the draft at the Security Council, diplomats said here.

The draft resolution names for the first time the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was established to protect Iran's Islamic system, in Iran's proliferation activities and the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.

Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. and Germany -- the P5 Plus One -- continue to negotiate annexes that would place travel bans and asset freezes on IRGC individuals and their controlled entities.

The draft resolution calls on states to exercise vigilance when dealing with Iran's financial sector, specifically with the Central Bank of Iran.

It prohibits Iran from investing abroad in uranium mines and enrichment operations and calls on Iran, once again, to refrain from continuing its uranium-enrichment program.

The draft resolution imposes binding new restrictions on Iran's import of conventional arms, which would stop the sale of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. States would be prohibited from selling to Iran eight categories of heavy weapons, including battle tanks, attack helicopters, and missile systems.

It calls for the creation of a cargo inspection framework, similar to the relatively successful Security Council resolution imposed last year on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK). UN members are called on to "seize and dispose" of any found contraband and are banned from providing critical support services, such as bunkering, to ships suspected of carrying cargo related to proliferation.

For the first time, the draft resolution calls for the establishment of a panel of experts to monitor the implementation of sanctions and improve enforcement.

The draft proposal "alerts states to the potential link between Iran's energy sector revenues and energy related technologies and proliferation."

It also, once again, urges Iran to comply with its obligations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN atomic watchdog.

In order to be adopted, Security Council resolutions need nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent members.

Turkey and Brazil, the two non-permanent members of the Security Council, have said they would be reluctant to vote in favor of new sanctions after the nuclear fuel swap deal brokered with Iran on Monday. Meanwhile, Lebanon might abstain because its government includes pro-Iranian politicians, diplomatic sources said.



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