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Monday, July 31, 2006

U.N. Demands That Iran Suspend Nuclear Work by Aug. 31

The U.N. Security Council today passed a resolution that would give Iran until Aug. 31 to halt uranium enrichment, or potentially face international sanctions, the Associated Press reported.

The resolution makes suspension of all enrichment-related activities mandatory and calls on member states “to exercise vigilance” in preventing WMD-related technology transfers to Iran.

It requests a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency by Aug. 31 on Iran’s compliance, AP reported.

China and Russia resisted language in earlier drafts, in which Iran’s noncompliance would immediately have triggered sanctions. The adopted version requires additional discussions to impose sanctions, according to AP.

The draft passed by a vote of 14-1, with Qatar casting the only dissenting vote.

“We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames,” said Qatar’s ambassador, Nassir Al-Nasser said. “We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran.”

Iran quickly blasted the resolution.

“All along it has been the persistence of some to draw arbitrary red lines and deadlines that has closed the door to any compromise,” said Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif. “This tendency has single-handedly blocked success and in most cases killed proposals in their infancy” (Nick Wadhams, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, July 31).

U.S. officials have said Washington would “forcefully” push for sanctions if Tehran does not comply, Agence France-Presse reported today.

“I think the Iranians are cornered,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said yesterday.

“What they specifically thought was that they could divide China and Russia, on the one hand, from the United States and Europe on the other, and that’s not happened,” he said. Burns said he believed Iran was “surprised” that Beijing and Moscow have not broken from the Western powers on the issue.

“This is going to be a significant blow to them,” he told Fox News.

Asked about potential sanctions, Burns said: “Obviously, we’re going to have to focus on the nuclear industry and try to cut off dual-use exports, exports of technologies that can help them further their enrichment and reprocessing activities.”

“We certainly would like to inhibit the ability of Iranians to travel, Iranian government officials, or for people to profit from our scientific and technological expertise,” he said (Tim Witcher, Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, July 31).

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that hostilities in Lebanon have pushed Iran to reconsider the world powers’ nuclear incentives offer to his country, the Associated Press reported.

“Events in Lebanon affected our evaluations about … (the) package of incentives. We should review it carefully. I have asked my colleagues to review it more carefully,” he said.

However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry warned that the package would be rejected if the Security Council approved the pending resolution.

“If any resolution is issued against Iran tomorrow, the package would be left off the agenda by Iran,” spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said yesterday. “We will definitely revise our nuclear policy” (Nasser Karimi, Associated Press II/Yahoo!News, July 31).

An Iranian state radio commentary Saturday said Tehran would reject the resolution’s Aug. 31 enrichment freeze deadline, AP reported.

“Iranians will not accept unfair decisions, even in the framework of resolutions by the international bodies,” state radio announced (Nasser Karimi, Associated Press III/Yahoo!News, July 30).
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