Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 28 Sep 2008 02:51 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

UN adopts Iran resolution but no new sanctions

US and European allies push for tougher action but Russia and China resist.

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution again urging Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear fuel work but offering no new sanctions and merely reaffirming existing ones.

Resolution 1835 calls on Iran "to fully comply and without delay with its obligations (under relevant UN resolutions) and to meet the requirement of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) board of governors."

The resolution also reaffirmed the council's "commitment to an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue," and welcomes the "dual-track approach" by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, the six powers trying to clip Iran's nuclear ambitions.

US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad immediately welcomed the adoption of the resolution by all 15 council members.

"It shows that the world community is united on this issue, that Iran must cooperate," he said, stressing that the nuclear standoff with Tehran should be resolved "through diplomacy."

"It is unfortunate... that yet again we are witnessing that the Security Council has been unwarrantedly and unnecessarily called to act in a hastily manner on an issue that by no stretch of logic, law or justification falls within the Council's purview, and poses no threat to international peace and security," Iran's UN mission said in a statement.

Indonesian Ambassador Marty Natalegawa, who abstained when the last Iran sanctions resolution was adopted last March, welcomed the fact that the sponsors inserted his amendment reaffirming the council's "commitment to an early negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue."

"It is imperative to find a peaceful solution to any question related to nuclear non-proliferation," he told the council in explaining why he voted in favor of the latest text.

He stressed that the resolution "does not provide for additions sanctions against Iran," adding, "if it did we would not have been able to support it."

The Security Council has already slapped three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which can be used to make the fissile material for a nuclear bomb.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who Friday ruled out any new sanctions for now, told reporters after the vote: "the added value of this resolution is in channelling the thinking of everybody in the direction of political rather than military enterprise."

Western diplomats had expressed fears that a lack of action by the Security Council might have led Israel to carry out its threat to resort to military action to ensure that its mortal enemy, Iran, does not acquire nuclear weapons.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaking at the United Nations after a ministerial session on Myanmar, said ahead of the vote that the resolution sends "a very particular signal that our resolve has not weakened."

He added that the draft also sends the message that "the two-track policy of engagement but also sanctions in the face of Iranian defiance of the UN and the IAEA remains very much in play."

The United States and its European allies had pushed for new, tougher sanctions against Tehran but ran into resistance from Russia and China.

The West and Israel accused Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear arms. But Tehran insists its program is strictly peaceful and solely aimed at generating electricity.

The six powers trying to clip Iran's nuclear ambitions have offered Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for a suspension of its uranium enrichment program.

The issue gained new urgency after the IAEA reported last week that Tehran continued to defy international pressure to cooperate with its investigation.

Foreign ministers of the six powers had initially planned to gather here Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session to weigh new sanctions against Tehran.

But that meeting was called off after Moscow complained Washington sought to "punish" it, apparently over its conflict with Georgia.

The war with Georgia, a US ally, led to the worst chill in relations between Moscow and Washington since the Cold War and prompted US officials to say Russia could face isolation.

But the United States and Russia later appeared to climb down from the dispute, agreeing here to hold further ministerial-level meetings in the future on the Iranian nuclear issue.