Global Policy Forum

UN Sanctions Against Iran

Photo Credit: Sick Soul

In 1979, at the time of the Islamic revolution and the hostage crisis, the United States imposed broad economic sanctions against Iran. Since then, Washington has imposed various additional sanctions against Tehran, accusing the Iranian government of developing nuclear weapons and sponsoring or funding terrorism abroad. The sanctions block US-based oil companies from operating in Iran, giving the US a strong incentive to generalize the sanctions and block US firms' foreign competitors from operating there as well.

In February 2003, Iran revealed its uranium enrichment program at Natanz, claiming it was using the technology for peaceful purposes and inviting the UN nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to visit. The US, however, alleged that the program is part of a drive to develop nuclear weapons and sought to refer the Iranian case to the Security Council. However in November 2004, Tehran signed a temporary agreement with Germany, France and Britain to cease uranium enrichment and the IAEA issued Iran a clean bill of health, effectively avoiding Security Council intervention. Nevertheless, the IAEA said it could not confirm that Iran was not pursuing undeclared nuclear activities and referred the case to the UN Security Council.

In June 2006, the Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing the P5 and Germany offer of diplomatic and economic incentives and demanding that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment programs by August 31. In December 2006, after Tehran's failure to comply, the Council imposed sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology. Following the IAEA's offer to Tehran of a 60 day grace period where halting of the country's uranium enrichment would be exchanged for suspension of UN sanctions which Iran did not take up, the Security Council passed Resolution 1747 in March 2007, intensifying the previous sanctions package while also naming specific officials as targets of the sanctions and adding additional sanctions against Iranian financial institutions.

Nevertheless, Iran vowed to continue enriching uranium, citing its right to do so without external interference and within the limits of international law. Indeed, Iran has demonstrated compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the countries that have backed sanctions have provided no evidence to the contrary. In fact, in December 2007, U.S. intelligence services declared that Iran had ended its nuclear weapons research in 2003. In spite of these revelations, Washington's policy remained firm. In March 2008, the Security Council passed Resolution 1803 to reaffirm and uphold previous sanctions.

Debates surrounding Iran's nuclear program intensified in September 2009 when the United States, Britain and France revealed that Iran was building a uranium enrichment facility in a mountain near Qom. Although Iran maintained that the Qom facility was being developed for peaceful purposes and reported its existence to the IAEA, the Security Council emphasized a February 2010 report in which the IAEA noted that Iran continued to enrich uranium. By April 2010, it appeared that Russia and China - Iran's traditional supporters on the Security Council - might reconsider their tolerance of Iran's nuclear program as the USA, France, and Great Britain pushed for a resolution approving more sanctions.

Although the Security Council may soon vote on a resolution, Council members such as Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon advocate continued diplomacy. The sanctions that have been slapped on Iran have not made the Iranian government more responsive to the demands of the Security Council and the IAEA. However, these sanctions have caused Iranian civilians much hardship, once again calling into question the legitimacy and efficacy of both general and targeted sanctions.

GPF Perspectives l Key Documents | Articles

GPF Perspectives


GPF Exclusive Video: The History of Iran's Nuclear Ambitions (August 12, 2010)

Dr. Ervand Abrahamian sits down with GPF to discuss the historical context of Iran's nuclear program. He demonstrates that by understanding how Iranians and their government perceive their rights and their security, the United States and the United Nations, we can identify some of the steps that might be taken to constructively resolve the nuclear issue. The United States is not and should not be fully responsible for resolving this international crisis, but Washington still has the power to transform the debate into a more constructive dialogue. (Global Policy Forum)

GPF Exclusive: Security Council Passes New Sanctions amid Allegations of Systematic Injustice (June 10, 2010)

The UN Security Council has passed Resolution 1929 imposing new sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear ambitions. The resolution passed with 12 affirmative votes, 2 dissenting votes from Brazil and Turkey, and an abstention from Lebanon. The Iranian delegate, speaking after the vote, highlighted the "rampant double-standards" that politically-motivated powerful countries impose on the weak. The delegate recalled Iran's plight at the Security Council in 1951 and the series of systematic injustices committed against it by the hegemonic powers ever since. The session highlighted the fundamental disconnect between those in favour of 1929, and those opposed. It is now clear, more than ever, that this issue is about much more than just Iran's nuclear program. (Global Policy Forum)

Key Documents

List of Security Council Resolutions on Iran

The Security Council passed its first resolution on Iran in 2006 and has passed five since then. Most recently, the Security Council strengthened its sanctions regime against Iran with Resolution 1929, passed in June 2010.

Report of the IAEA to the Security Council (February 22, 2008)

This official International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, submitted to the Security Council, records an open verdict on Iran's nuclear program. The report states that Iran has answered many key questions on the development of a weapons program. However, Iran has refused to cooperate with the IAEA over US allegations that Tehran is attempting to enrich uranium and develop nuclear missile heads, describing the accusations as "baseless" and "fabricated"


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Sanctions on Iran Hit Afghan Refugees (December 10, 2012)

This article examines the economic impact of sanctions against Iran on Afghan refugees.  Afghans have long migrated to Iran to find work and better living conditions, and the US-led war has exacerbated this trend. Iran’s national currency has decreased over 35% in value due to the sanctions against its nuclear program and led to a subsequent rise in consumer prices which has made living conditions exceptionally difficult for refugees.  These sanctions targeted at the Iranian regime have a significant impact on unintended victims such as Afghan refugees, most of whom were forced to migrate due to the actions of some of the very countries applying sanctions on Iran. (Financial Times)

Humanitarian Aid Blocked as UN Imposes New Iran Sanctions (October 15, 2012)

The EU and UN have announced a new set of sanctions on Iran. Under the existing sanctions the Iranian economy was already in its worst condition for 30 years. Drawing on the experience of sanctions on Iraq, did the Western powers and the UN not learn that general sanctions harm ordinary people, causing suffering, illness and even death? Targeted sanctions would be far less harmful for the Iranian population. (Common Dreams)

Iran's Currency Hits All-Time Low as Western Sanctions Take Their Toll (October 1, 2012)

Iran’s economy is experiencing the worst financial crisis since the 1980s. The population does not see a government policy response to this slump and Iranians rush to trade the rial for foreign currency and gold as the value of the rial has plummeted. While the ordinary Iranian is hurting, the US and EU might perceive this economic downturn as a success of their sanctions regime on Iran. After the Iraq sanctiond in the 1990s, it was often said that indiscriminate sanctions that hurt civilians were thoroughly discredited. But here they come again! (Guardian)

Top Myths about Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Program (September 17, 2012)

The IAEA Report on Iran of November 2011 provided no evidence that Iran is actually developing nuclear weapons. Yet Israel and the United States are increasingly hostile in their rhetoric on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Juan Cole’s list of nine myths provides a welcome antidote to the claims usually relayed by the media and questions how appropriate the aggressive diplomacy of Israel and the United States towards Iran really is. (Informed Comment)


IAEA’s “Soviet Nuclear Scientist” Never Worked on Weapons (November 9, 2011)

An IAEA report stating that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist helped Iran develop nuclear capabilities was factually inaccurate. The expert identified as Vyacheslav Danilenko was never a nuclear weapons scientist. Iran is undertaking initiatives aimed at developing its nanotechnology sector, and Danilenko was working in Iran to share his expertise in nanodiamond technology.  The IAEA was made aware of the nature of Danilenko’s nanodiamond work in Iran and made no attempt to inquire into his background, demonstrating that the report’s efforts at influencing world opinion were politically motivated. (IPS Terraviva)


European Union Imposes New Economic Sanctions Against Iran (July 27, 2010)

Responding to pressure from the Obama Administration, the 27 states of the European Union significantly broadened economic sanctions against Iran.  The new sanctions go beyond those imposed by the UN Security Council in June.  The new measures target petroleum, banking, shipping, insurance and transportation.  The EU's decision indicates that the member states are ready to increase the pressure on Tehran, even at the expense of harming the population and bringing the conflict closer to war.(Washington Post)

New Sanctions Crimp Iran's Shipping Business (July 21, 2010)

Naval insurance companies have withheld coverage of Iranian vessels in light of US and UN sanctions against Iran, drastically decreasing the number of ports at which Iranian ships may dock. Trade in general with Iran is becoming increasingly risky for businesses, which must demonstrate "due diligence" to avoid harming relationships with US interests. Iran has retaliated by imposing mandatory inspections on any ships bearing the flag of a country that inspects Iranian ships under sanctions. Russia and China are also said to be angry at US unilateral sanctions, and have refused to comply with these measures. (Washington Post)

US Wants India to Act on Iran Sanctions (July 15, 2010)

US National Security Adviser James Jones has traveled to New Delhi to urge India to enforce UN sanctions against Iran. Jones also discussed a variety of items with other Indian officials, but Iran sanctions have apparently dominated US-India discourse in recent months. India maintains significant ties with Iran; their relationship is defined by economic and strategic interests. Although a US State Department said that India would adhere to the sanctions, India has traditionally seen sanctions as diplomatic tool that "does not serve any purpose."(India Today)

Worries Mount over Sanctions' Ripple Effect (July 8, 2010)

It appears that sanctions against Iran are increasing the domestic power of the regime rather than weakening its resolve. Observers feel that the government will be able to manage the sanctions' potential effects on civilians - such restrictions on aviation, and increases in production costs - to its advantage. Tehran is reportedly set to use oil revenue to keep the lower class content, while depriving the generally anti-government middle class and restricting its space to criticize the regime. (Inter Press Service)

Musavi Condemns UN Sanction Resolution, Blames Ahmadinejad's Policies (July 7, 2010)

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, who was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main challenger in last year's elections, has spoken out against Ahmadinejad's policies. Musavi believes that Iranians have the right to know how new UN sanctions will affect them. Therefore, the regime must convey to Iranians the true implications of Security Council Resolutions rather than pretending that these documents do not matter. Iranians should use their commitment to democracy to demonstrate to the international community that their government's illegitimacy should neither deprive them of their independence nor legitimize unjust sanctions. (Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty)

Toronto Exporter Guilty of Breaking Anti-Nuclear Law (July 6, 2010)

A provincial court in Canada has found Mahmoud Yadegari guilty of violating UN sanctions against Iran under the so-called "United Nations Act." Yadegari ran an import-export business in Toronto, through which he is said to have illegally exported to Iran devices that could theoretically be used in the development of nuclear weapons. Yadegari is the first person ever convicted under the non-proliferation provisions in customs laws statutes under Canada's Criminal Code. (Toronto Star)

China Objects to US Unilateral Sanctions on Iran (July 6, 2010)

China has criticized the United States for imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran. Last week, U.S. President Obama signed off on legislation that enacts tougher restrictions on commercial activities with ties to Iran in addition to the new UN sanctions imposed by Security Council Resolution 1929. A spokesman from the Chinese Foreign Ministry implied that China sees the new U.S. sanctions as undermining Resolution 1929. The spokesman's remarks illustrate a division within the Permanent 5 over the appropriate extent of sanctions against Tehran. (AFP)

Can Brazil Save the World from War with Iran? (May 4, 2010)

American, British, and French efforts to obtain the support of China and Russia indicate that the UN Security Council is moving closer to voting on new sanctions against Iran. This opens a window of opportunity for the elected members of the Council who could potentially defeat "Permanent-Five unanimity" by blocking the resolution. Brazil has challenged the march toward harsher sanctions and perhaps armed conflict, drawing parallels between the current situation the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Brazil has revived proposals to help Iran develop a peaceful nuclear program, providing a much-needed alternative to the bellicosity emanating from Washington. (Truthout)

Why Economic Sanctions on Iran Won't Work (April 19, 2010)

The US may be unable to push harsher sanctions against Iran through the Security Council. But sanctions have in any case rarely produced regime change. In Iran's case, direct deals continue to take place, and as oil is an easily transported and much wanted commodity, smuggling would take over if direct deals were to cease. While this would hurt the civilian population of Iran, its elite - and regime - would be as safe as ever. (Salon)

Iran Seeks Friends to Fight Sanctions (April 19, 2010)

Iran has launched a diplomatic offensive in response to the US drive to impose tougher new sanctions against the country. Tehran will be using the upcoming Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to gather support from developing countries. Iran accuses Western governments of hypocrisy for blocking its right to enrich uranium, while flouting their own disarmament obligations under the treaty. As a signatory to the NPT, Tehran argues that it is legally entitled to the full fuel cycle nuclear program for civilian purposes. (Independent)

History of Iran (video) (March 27, 2010)

This insightful video on US-Iran relations explores the unhappy history of relations between the two countries. The video begins with the US overthrowing the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953 and installing a pro-US dictator, and ends discussing the controversial Iran-Iraq war and asking pertinent questions about US sanctions against Iran. (Persians of Facebook)

Obama and Sarkozy Want New Sanctions Against Iran in "Weeks" (March 30, 2010)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama have both publicly reaffirmed their commitment to imposing new and tougher sanctions regime against Iran. At a press conference held by the two presidents, Sarkozy extended his support to Obama with the promise that he would make all the "necessary efforts to ensure that Europe engages as a whole in the sanctions regime." (Guardian)

Tehran Lobbies China Against New Iran Sanctions (March 9, 2010)

Washington has been working hard to persuade Security Council members to agree to new tougher sanctiions against Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting countries that oppose the measure - such as Brazil - to convince them to support the US plan. Iran is also playing the diplomatic game, urging China to reject the proposed sanctions and to "pursue its own decisions...without being persuaded by America." (Christian Science Monitor)

How to Read Brazil’s Stance on Iran (March 4, 2010)

Brazil did not reject tighter sanctions against Iran because of anti-American emotion. Rather, Brasilia wants more credible evidence before moving against Iran, believing that pushing Iran into a corner will only exacerbate the situation. Brazil also wants to make a wider point on the nuclear proliferation regime, namely the double-standard in pursuing Iran’s nuclear regime, while ignoring the transgressions of other states. (Council on Foreign Relations)

Japan Emerges as Key Player on Iran (February 3, 2010)

Japan is an important player in brokering a nuclear-fuel swap deal with Iran. Japan has become increasingly important in Western negotiations with Iran because it is a non-permanent member of the Security Council, has an avowed interest in disarmament, the head of the International Atomic Energy Association is currently Japanese, and Japan and Iran have many mutual interests. Further, following the controversial arms sale from US to Taiwan, and the consequent souring of US-China relations, it is useful for Obama to have an Asian counterweight to China's power. (Politico)

The Iran Sanctions Dilemma (February 1, 2010)

A number of recent commercial airline disasters in Iran reveal that UN and unilateral sanctions against Iranian civilian airlines are hurting the people and not the government. Sanctions have endangered innocent lives across the region, and authoritative observers like Mohamed El Baradei, head of the IAEA, considers sanctions ineffective. Although US President Obama recently offered goodwill to Iranians in a special New Year message, it is time to replace rhetoric with action and remove commercial airline sanctions. (The Guardian)

UN Sanctions Hit Hospitals: Iran Running Out of Life-Saving Isotopes (January 6, 2009)

The Security Council has imposed trade sanctions on Iran which supposedly allow the country's medical practices to continue unhindered. But these sanctions have blocked access to vital equipment and jeopardize the treatment of hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Iran cannot import body scanners, because parts of these could be useful to a nuclear program. As a result of these sanctions, Iran will also soon run out of radioactive isotopes essential to radiotherapy, putting in peril the lives of as many as 850,000 cancer patients. (Spiegel International)



Interview with Iran's Nuclear Ambassador: "We Have Nothing to Hide"

Ali Asghar Soltanieh is Iran's nuclear ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In this interview with Spiegal, Soltanieh discusses why Iran will continue its uranium-enrichment activities - despite the world's disapproval and the threat of sanctions. Soltanieh claims Iran has every right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. In particular, he emphasizes the need for radioactive isotopes for radiation therapy - staunchly denying any intent to create nuclear weapons. ( November 24, 2009)

UN Sanctions in Iran's Post Election Era (November 13, 2009)

UN sanctions have been unsuccessful in persuading the Iranian Government to halt uranium enrichment plans. Yet, for civilians in post election Iran, the situation is changing. Many Iranians are demanding civil rights and protesting against fundamentalist policies. This article urges the UN to pay attention to internal changes so that policies support civilians and prospective sanctions only target core governmental structures, not the nation as a whole. (Open Democracy)

Iran and The West at a Crossroad (October 30th, 2009)

Iran has been hesitant in responding to the IAEA proposal that it should ship 70% of its uranium abroad for enrichment. This delay should not be read as a rejection of engagement, but a sign of internal political debate. Iran is in fact showing signs of an increased momentum towards international co-operation and recognition. For this reason the article is hopeful that negotiations will produce a common agreement. The dialogue should be extended, to include technological and economic objectives which would highlight the mutual benefits of co-operation. (Yale Global Online)

Iran sanctions: Who really wins? (October 8th, 2009)

Previous sanctions in Iran have been unsuccessful and not achieved what they anticipated. Similarly the proposed "crippling" sanctions on Iraq are unlikely to be effective. Heavier sanctions, Salehi suggests, could strengthen the hand of the current government (both in terms of wealth and popularity) and so strengthen the power that the proponents of sanctions claim to challenge. The article proposes that the world engage with Iran as a partner, and acknowledge that Iran has wisdom to offer regarding its recent economic development and building. (The Brookings Institution)

The Still Missing Fact in the Iran Drama (October 7th, 2009)

Many media reports suggest that Iran's revelation of the nuclear enrichment plant at Qom was the result of their being "caught out." (The NY Times reports, "Iran had found out its cover had been blown.") Greenwald argues there no evidence to support this claim and he disputes the way in which the media propagate this alleged 'information'. Though it is possible that Iran found out that their actions were being monitored and consequently made the revelation, it is also possible that the revelation was made entirely voluntarily - which would mean Iran should less attract cynicism than it currently receives from media publications. (The Salon)

Press Conference by Foreign Minister of Iran (October 1st, 2009)

In the wake of the disclosure of the Qum nuclear processing facility, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran declares that Iran is open to international dialogue, possibly up to the level of a summit meeting. The Foreign Minister maintains that Iran's nuclear program is based on its right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and that it has been open in declaring all nuclear facilities. Moreover he expands on why the past June elections were the "most glorious elections ever held in the Islamic Republic of Iran."
The world remains divided over whether Iran is building nuclear weapons. Debate centers on whether Iran's recent revelation of a nuclear processing facility near Qum can be taken as evidence as of an effort to construct nuclear weapons, and, if this threat is genuine - whether it is imminent or distant. The very breadth of debate and the greater consideration of evidence suggest that lessons have been learned from hasty decisions previously made about Iraq's "nuclear program." Having witnessed false evidence in the past, experts, officials, and many media are demanding greater transparency and a more balanced and cautious assessment of the "evidence." (The New York Times)

U.S. Allies Seek New Ways to Sanction Iran: With China, Russia Still Reluctant, Moves by Treasury Department Are Immediate Focus.

Since 2006 the UN has enforced sanctions on Iran: blocking arms exports, freezing assets, and banning the trade of all items that could lead to the development of Tehran's uranium enrichment program. In the wake of reports of a second nuclear fuel facility in Tehran, the US is fighting for tougher and tighter sanctions to be imposed. Russia and China do not support tougher sanctions however- meaning the sanctions cannot be passed by the Security Council. The article considers the complications arising from this division, the reasons behind the key players' decisions, and the likelihood of separate EU enforced sanctions, independent of the UN.



For Iran, Energy Woes Justify Nuclear Push (September 9, 2008)

In September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) made up of several countries including the P5, granted India permission to trade in nuclear materials. India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and it tested a nuclear weapon in 1974. This Christian Science Monitor article discusses the double standard that the NSG uses in its decision on what countries can and cannot pursue nuclear energy. Iran, for example, has signed the NPT in 1968 and suspended nuclear enrichment for three years, but the NSG still does not allow Iran to develop nuclear energy.

Iran Says its Atomic Work Not a UN Council Issue (May 29, 2008)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claims that Iran has resolved most issues concerning its alleged nuclear activities, but that questions remain over the country' research into nuclear warheads and uranium enrichment. Iran claims it has complied with all six outstanding issues that were included in the original IAEA Work Plan for Iran, and that the uranium enrichment program was never a part of the work plan and does not have to be resolved. Iran claims that UN Security Council involvement is unnecessary because it is in full cooperation with the IAEA.(Reuters)

Iran Sanctions Vote Signals a Global Rift (March 5, 2008)

Despite a 14-0 vote in the Security Council, UN member states disagreed over extending sanctions against Iran. The Christian Science Monitor reports that South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia and Libya insisted that the case against Iran was unproven and that the country needed more time to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In response to the sanctions, Iran stated that the decision was the work of a few powers to advance their own agenda.

Iran Is Challenged over Nuclear Program (February 22, 2008)

The International Atomic Energy Agency will present a report to the Security Council offering a "mixed picture" of Iran's nuclear program, says the International Herald Tribune. The report suggests that Iran has answered many of the questions posed by the UN agency, but also notes that the country has refused to stop the production of uranium fuel, which could be used to construct a bomb. The Council is considering a new resolution on Iran; with the US, France and the UK pushing for tougher sanctions against Tehran.

IAEA Denies Internal Row over Iran, Condemns "Hype" (February 12, 2008)

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official has rejected criticism of being soft on Iran, and denied claims of a disagreement over Iran's nuclear program. The official defended the impartiality of the IAEA, saying that it would clarify the basis of Iran's nuclear program, before objectively presenting the facts to the Security Council. The IAEA accused "Western diplomats" of using "hype" tactics to impose further Security Council action against Iran, and noted that similar tactics had been used by the US to justify military action in Iraq. (Reuters)



Iran, the United States and Europe: the Nuclear Complex (December 5, 2007)

The author of this openDemocracy analysis goes through Iran's nuclear and diplomatic history to explain the current geo-political relationship between the US, EU and Iran. He expects that the United States national-intelligence estimate (NIE) report, which stated that Iran stopped its nuclear power program in 2003, will help these countries resume a more diplomatic track. As well as re-establish the EU as the mediator of US and Iranian relations, as it was before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got elected as Iran's president.

Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to Iran (December 17, 2007)

The Russian company Atomstroiexport resumed shipping fuel to the Iranian Bushehr nuclear facility. Even though the UN demanded that Iran halt its nuclear program, and the US has been pressing for more sanctions, the UN approved the Russian fuel shipments. According to Jonathan Marcus, a BBC correspondent, "The delivery of the nuclear fuel has removed one of the most significant practical sanctions against Tehran" (BBC)

Iran, IAEA Resume Talks (December 10, 2007)

After suffering accusations from the US and two sets of sanctions, Iran has been proving that its nuclear program serves an energy purpose. Iran has answered all the questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Therefore both sides have resumed talks on a "plan of action to remove all technical ambiguities" about the differences over Iran's uranium enrichment program. (Fars News Agency)

US Finds That Iran Halted Nuclear Arms Bid in 2003 (December 4, 2007)

A new report from the US intelligence community, a National Intelligence Estimate, concludes that Iran stopped working on its nuclear weapons program more than four years ago. Intelligence officials have been preparing the assessment for more than 18 months, to make sure they had the correct information. Democrats say "the intelligence community has learned its lessons from the Iraq debacle" since the report conflicts with the US administration's suspicions on Iran. (Washington Post)

No Evidence Iran Building Nuclear Weapons: Mohamed ElBaradei (October 28, 2007)

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA, says that there is no evidence Iran has nuclear material to make weapons. He warns against the US confrontational rhetoric and says that it would lead to "a disaster." ElBaradei does not see military action as a solution but strongly recommends continuing negotiation and inspection. (Associated Press)

UN Agrees to Delay Vote on Further Iran Sanctions (September 28, 2007)

The P-5 and Germany decided to refrain from imposing sanctions on Iran until the release of a report by Moahmed ElBaradei and Javier Solana assessing Tehran's cooperation and the transparency on its nuclear enrichment. After two previous UN sanction resolutions, a tougher version will be put to a vote in November, unless there is a "positive response." But, the US and Russia may disagree on how Iran is responding. (International Herald Tribune)

The Best US Weapon Against Iran Is Diplomacy (September 26, 2007)

This article argues that the US should not have attacked Iraq in 2003, but pursued diplomacy and allowed the IAEA weapons inspectors to finish their job. The author says that the US should not repeat its approach with Iraq in its dealings with Iran and negotiations must go through the UN. The article emphasizes the fact that both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei have denied any plans to develop nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the IAEA has not found evidence of nuclear weapons or any critical levels of enriched uranium in the country. (Newsday)

IAEA Chief Warns Against Striking Iran (September 17, 2007)

The hasty 'war' reference by France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has created great concern at the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, prefers a diplomatic approach in getting Iran to agree to a more transparent nuclear program. ElBaradei wants to avoid a rushed attack, like the one against Iraq. The IAEA has no reason to believe that Iran represents nuclear danger and therefore the chief argues that another war should not be an option. (Associated Press)

Iranian Raises Possibility of an Intrusion into Iraq (September 10, 2007)

Cross-border attacks from the militant Kurdish group, Pejak, have sharpened tensions at the Iraqi-Iranian border. Iran wants the Iraqi government to prevent these attacks, threatening that will respond with military action. Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Baquiri, declared the US supports Pejak, and therefore that Washington condones the attacks. Meanwhile, Kurdish victims of bombings protest in front of the Kurdish Parliament asking for UN intervention to stop the attacks. (New York Times)

Iran Nuke Pact May Be a Breakthrough (August 28, 2007)

Iran and the IAEA are concluding an agreement which includes a timetable for Tehran to report on its nuclear program. While some observers welcome the development as a breakthrough in the stand-off with Tehran, others like the US, UK and France demand some more immediate answers or they will ask the UN Security Council to impose more sanctions. (ISN Security Watch)

US Weighing Terrorist Label for Iran Guards (August 15, 2007)

The US government may label Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. This would place a sovereign country's armed forces onto the US terrorist list for the first time. This article argues that this designation aims to increase pressure on members of the Security Council to intensify economic sanctions against Iran. If imposed, the labeling would increase "political and psychological pressure on Iran," further isolating Tehran from "foreign governments and financial institutions." (New York Times)

Iran: West Torn Over Carrot and Stick Approach (July 28, 2007)

This Adnkronos International article claims that UN sanctions will fail to stop Iran's uranium enrichment unless the Security Council applies them to oil deals. For example, the Austrian oil company OMV plans to invest US$18 billion in Iran. Other EU companies, such as the French Total and Italian ENI, also retain lucrative oil deals with Iran. And although US laws do limit investments in Iran, they permit those valued at up to US$20 million.

Iran Raises Stakes in War Over Enriching Uranium (July 25, 2007)

The UN Security Council views Iran's uranium enrichment as a nuclear proliferation threat, but Iran claims a fundamental right to do so. As a result, Tehran warned the United States that it might respond to increased UN Security Council sanctions with measures such as breaking off relations with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran claims that it has the capacity to make a bomb, but that doing so would be against a religious fatwa and would make Iran less secure. For now, Tehran has agreed to answer all of the IAEA's questions and to allow inspection of a water-reactor near Arak. (Mail & Guardian)

Iran to Allow IAEA Access (July 14, 2007)

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani agreed to IAEA access to Iranian nuclear facilities at Arak. The IAEA also won "unspecified safeguards" at a plant near Natanz. Critics protest that the agreement does not address Iran's uranium enrichment at Natanz, over which the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran. They suspect that the accord permits Iran to delay further Security Council consideration of Iran's nuclear program and tightening of said sanctions. But an IAEA diplomat praised the deal as "not insignificant" and said that it cut "to the heart of the agency's concerns" about Iran. (Los Angeles Times)

UN's Ban Urges Delay in Push for More Iran Sanctions (June 27, 2007)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon requested that the US, Britain, France and Germany postpone toughening sanctions on Iran. Ban plans on using “dialogue� to coax Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program. The Secretary General explains that he employed similar tactics to negotiate the hybrid peacekeeping force for Sudan. And as with the case of Sudan, the US, UK and France disagree with China and Russia over increasing sanctions against Iran. (Bloomberg)

IAEA Says Iran Making Progress on Nuclear Program (May 15, 2007)

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran, having overcome a major technical obstacle in its nuclear program, has now started to enrich uranium at a faster rate. However, Iran does not yet have the technology to turn the enriched uranium into a usable weapon. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei is due to report his findings on Tehran’s nuclear program to the Security Council in June. Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Policy says that if Iran does not agree to suspend production by June, it will push for a third set of sanctions against the country. (Reuters)

Tehran Agrees to Compromise on Nonproliferation (May 10, 2007)

In a global meeting leading up to the 2010 Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran agreed to a South African-proposed phrase in the Conference agenda calling for the "need for full compliance with" the Nonproliferation Treaty. The phrase suggests the need for the US and other nuclear weapons states to disarm too. (Taipei Times)

UN Agency Confirms Iran Is Producing Nuclear Fuel (April 19, 2007)

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirms that Iran is producing nuclear fuel at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in contravention of Security Council resolutions. IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen's report finds that Iran is running more than 1,300 centrifuges although there is no confirmation of how many are actually enriching uranium. Iran maintains that it will enrich uranium only to lower levels suitable to generate nuclear power, denying the Western suspicion of nuclear weaponry development. The Security Council is to discuss Iran’s compliance with resolutions in May. (Independent)

Iran at Starting Stage of Nuke Enrichment: ElBaradei (April 12, 2007)

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei says that it would take years for Iran to be able to develop nuclear weapons although Iran is still going ahead with the construction of the Natanz reactor with the goal of having 54,000 centrifuges. ElBaradei confirms that IAEA inspectors are in Iran and could soon provide the first independent assessment of whether Iran's nuclear program is indeed peaceful. (Reuters)

Iran Sanctions Draw Cool Reaction (March 26, 2007)

The BBC follows the reactions of the media in different countries to Security Council Resolution 1747 intensifying sanctions against Tehran. Iranian media reported mainly on Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki's speech at the UN Security Council session reflecting his position that the resolution contravenes the UN Charter. Other media reactions observed include Pan-Arab coverage, of which the strongest reaction was Al-Jazeera's and the Syrian media, who both quoted Mottaki saying that "pressure and intimidation would not change his country's policy." Chinese media seemed to show more optimism, stressing that a diplomatic solution was still possible.

War Is Not the Answer to Iran Puzzle (March 26, 2007)

South Africa warns of the dangers in using force against Iran. Whilst recognizing the need "to impose coercive measures such as sanctions" regarding nuclear disarmament, South Africa believes that such measures should only be a means to political dialogue to achieve a peaceful solution. South Africa proposed amendments to Resolution 1747 aiming to establish confidence in the nuclear program of Iran and these were eventually accepted by the major powers. However the main proposal to suspend measures against Iran for 90 days to give negotiations a chance was rejected by all other Security Council members. (The Star)

Iran Warns Of Nuclear Program Confrontation 'Consequences' (March 25, 2007)

Iran immediately rejected the sanctions imposed by the Security Council in Resolution 1747 and announced a partial suspension of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Commenting on the sanctions, Iraqi Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned that, "Actions that are illegal, unwarranted and unjustified ... reduce the credibility of the Security Council." Mottaki feels that the drafters of the resolution lacked the will to come to a diplomatic solution, demanding that Iran first halt enrichment before engaging in negotiations on its nuclear program. (Nasdaq)

Security Council Votes to Tighten Iran Sanctions (March 24, 2007)

After weeks of negotiations, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1747 imposing amongst other measures, a freeze on the assets of 15 Iranian citizens and 13 organizations and sanction on Iran’s fourth-largest bank. The resolution also contains language on the importance of a nuclear-free Middle East and the key role of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is to report back within 60 days on whether Tehran has suspended its uranium enrichment program, and if so, measures against Iran will be lifted. (New York Times)

Iran Calls for Talks Before New Sanctions (February 25, 2007)

Having reached the UN Security Council's deadline to freeze its nuclear enrichment program, Tehran calls for further negotiation to reach a solution. However United States Vice President Dick Cheney reaffirms that Washington is leaving all options open, including military action. The British Foreign Office hopes that the Security Council will pass a tough and widely supported UN Resolution on nuclear disarmament to show a "united front" on the issue. To achieve this, a compromise with China and Russia must be found. (Guardian)

UN Deadline on Iran's Nuclear Program Passes (February 21, 2007)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has now released its report on "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolution 1737" responding to the UN Security Council's query whether Iran has suspended all activities mentioned in this resolution and reporting on the process of Iranian compliance with IAEA Board requirements. International Herald Tribune reports that Tehran's failure to meet the UN's nuclear deadline is unlikely to lead to swift UN action because there is a feeling that earlier limited sanctions are already having effects on the country.

Iran Still Defiant as Nuclear Deadline Expires (February 21, 2007)

Although vowing to continue with its nuclear program, Tehran offered to guarantee that it would not try to develop atomic weapons. Ali Akbar Velayati, senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that Iran would be open to all proposals, including the temporary halting of uranium enrichment. Iran's offers to be flexible about negotiations have been dismissed by the West as a technique to stall harsher sanctions. The UN Security Council will not take further action until March 9, giving further time for talks. (Reuters)

UN Nuclear Agency Suspends Iran Aid (February 9, 2007)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to suspend nearly half of the technical aid that it provides to Iran as a punishment for the country's refusal to stop its uranium enrichment program. The decision, in line with Security Council sanctions imposed on Iran, awaits approval by the 35 countries on the board of the IAEA. Tehran insists that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, but many Western powers continue to fear that the uranium will be used to develop nuclear weapons. (Houston Chronicle)

Iran: Tehran to Ponder UN Offer to Delay Sanctions (January 29, 2007)

Mohammed El Baradei, the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has offered Iran a "time-out" which would suspend sanctions against Iran for a certain period of time if Iran stops its sensitive nuclear work. The sanctions not only forbid the supply to Iran of nuclear parts and equipment, but also allow countries to individually or collectively impose international financial penalties on Tehran. Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, says that the UN's offer is being considered. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Iran Bars 38 IAEA Inspectors (January 23, 2007)

Tehran has refused access to 38 inspectors on a list of potential officials drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit and monitor Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran claims to have the right to bar certain inspectors, according to the agency's regulations. The move, seen as a demonstration of Iran's unwillingness to accept the UN Security Council resolution, will likely worsen the stand-off with Washington. (Voice of America)



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