Saturday, March 24, 2007

UN sanctions voted against Iran as Ahmadinejad decides not to show up

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a fresh batch of sanctions against Iran today.

The new resolution is still pretty mild, and represents a compromise between what the US and the Europeans wanted and what the Russians, Chinese and Muslim nations on the UNSC wanted. That particular balancing act is not going to be able to go on for too much longer.

The Security Council approved a ban on Iranian arms exports - not imports - and a freeze of the assets of 28 additional people and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. The list includes Sepah, a government-owned bank.

The new resolution also calls for `voluntary' restrictions on travel by the Iranian individuals subject to sanctions, on arms sales to Iran and on new financial assistance or loans to the Iranian government.

Like the last resolution passed back in December, it asks the IAEA to report on compliance within 60 days on whether Iran has suspended enrichment.

One thing that got lumped into the resolution was a reference to a prior IAEA resolution calling for the Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction, something obviously aimed at Israel. Indonesia and Qatar wanted that spelled out blatantly, but the US insisted that it be referred to obliquely, so the resolution merely says that "a solution to the Iranian nuclear program would contribute to international efforts against nuclear proliferation including efforts relating to the Middle East."

Iran's official position is that the sanctions are `illegal', that Iran will continue pursuing nukes and that it may perform some `illegal acts' in return.

Iran's president Ahmadinejad was expected to deliver that message...but decided to have Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki make the trip instead.

Ahmadinejad claimed that visas for his entourage didn't arrive in time...but the US State Department showed documentation proving they arrived in Sweden early Friday.

Maybe he thought the Americans would take him hostage or something...

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