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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 March 2007, 23:02 GMT
UN ratchets up pressure on Iran
By Jane O'Brien
BBC News, UN headquarters

Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki
Iran's foreign minister said the UN was acting outside its remit
The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran to pressurise the country to suspend its nuclear programme.

Iran says its activities are peaceful - but the UK, US and other members of the Security Council believe Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons.

The resolution calls for financial sanctions against 28 individuals and entities associated with Iran's sensitive nuclear programme, and an increased arms embargo.

It also urges other governments not to give monetary support to Iran which has 60 days to comply with the resolution or face further, non-military action.

The British UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the resolution was an incremental and proportionate response to Iran's failure to comply with demands that it give up uranium enrichment.

The Security Council is being abused to take an unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable action against the peaceful nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki
"This resolution, building upon Resolutions 1696 and 1737, sends a unanimous and unambiguous signal to the government and people of Iran," he said, referring to the previous resolutions passed last year.

"To both we say that we prefer and are committed to the path of co-operation. But we say also that the path of proliferation by Iran is not one that the international community can accept.

"We want Iran to make the right choice: co-operation with the international community, which requires the removal of any doubt that Iran could develop nuclear weapons. The resolve of the Council is clear. Iran must make its choice."

Volatile situation

In an unusual move, the Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki flew to New York to address the Security Council after the vote. He stepped in to represent his government after the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cancelled his own visit at the last minute.

Mr Mottaki said the Security Council was operating outside its mandate because his country did not represent a threat to international peace and security.

Arak heavy water production facility
There was an offer of European nuclear fuel if Iran backed down
"This is the fourth time in the last 12 months that in an unwarranted move, orchestrated by a few of its permanent members, the Security Council is being abused to take an unlawful, unnecessary and unjustifiable action against the peaceful nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said.

But along with sanctions the resolution also holds out hope of renewed negotiations.

Mr Jones Parry said an EU offer of help was still on the table and he proposed further talks to see if a way could be found to open negotiations.

If Iran backs down, there is already an offer from the Europeans including "co-operation with Iran on civil nuclear energy, legally-binding guarantees on the supply of nuclear fuel, and wider political, security and economic cooperation".

Immediately after the Security Council meeting, the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Berlin said he and other EU diplomats "would be in touch with the Iranian government in the days and weeks ahead to see if they might reconsider their obstinate refusal to renegotiate."

Many countries, while supporting the resolution against Iran, warned of serious consequences given the already volatile situation in the region.

Qatar's UN Ambassador Nassir al-Nasser said he was deeply saddened that the Security Council had been forced to impose new sanctions. He said it showed a failure of diplomacy.

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