December 24, 2006

Iran and Sanctions - UNSCR 1737

On December 23, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 1737, imposing sanctions on Iran for its continued refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment activities as required by UNSC Resolution 1696 (July 31, 2006). The resolution states that if Iran does not comply within 60 days, additional sanctions may be applied.

The resolution was not as strong as the United States would have liked, but to gain Russian acceptance, it agreed to less stringent sanctions. The final draft was also acceptable to Qatar, who was the lone vote against Resolution 1696 in July. Now that there is a sanctions regime, albeit weak, in place, it will be difficult for the Russians to object to stronger sanctions if Iran does not comply with the requirements of the resolution.

Not surprisingly, Iran has rejected the resolution. In their own words:

President Ahmadinejad:
"I am sorry for you who lost the opportunity for friendship with the nation of Iran. You yourself know that you cannot damage the nation of Iran an iota. You have to accept that Iran has the technology of producing nuclear fuel. This will not damage the nation of Iran, but its issuers will soon regret this superficial and nil act."
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman:
"We are not obliged and it is not expected that cooperation with the IAEA continues at the same former level."
Iranian parliament:
"The government should seriously and strongly continue the important issue of peaceful nuclear technology with prudence and foresight. It should never accept such illogical pressures. Death to America."
Iran's nuclear negotiator Larijani:
"We are now more decisive in realizing our nuclear aims. From Sunday morning, we will begin activities at Natanz — site of 3,000-centrifuge machines — and we will drive it with full speed. It will be our mmediate response to the resolution."
Iran's representative to the United Nations Zarif:
"The same Governments, which have pushed this Council to take groundless punitive measures against Iran's peaceful nuclear program, have systematically prevented it from taking any action to nudge the Israeli regime towards submitting itself to the rules governing the nuclear non-proliferation regime."
Will sanctions be effective? Iran's defiance would tend to indicate that they will not. They believe that their huge oil reserves and the world's seemingly insatiable thirst for oil will insulate them from the effects of sanctions - they may be right. If sanction prove to be ineffective, is military action inevitable? Several Israeli leaders believe that may be the only option.
See my earlier:
Additionally, the chances of constructive dialog with the government in Tehran, as recommended by the Iraq Study Group, have been dealt a severe blow. No surprise - I still maintain that Iran is part of the problem, not part of the solution. See my earlier piece for MSNBC's Hardball, Iraq Study Group - Iran and Syria part of the problem.