United States Lauds U.N. Action on Iran's Nuclear Programs

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - U.S. Ambassador John Bolton says "the ball is now clearly in Iran's court" following the U.N. Security Council's July 31 demand that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities by the end of August or face diplomatic and economic sanctions.

Adopting a mandatory resolution, the council also endorsed the proposal for a long-term solution presented to Iran in June by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States that would guarantee Tehran's nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes. (See related article.)

"The choice is up to them and the clock has begun to tick," Bolton said of Iranian government officials.

President Bush, in Miami, described the resolution as "strong" and thanked U.S. partners who had helped win its approval.  “It goes to show that when America takes the lead and works with our friends we are able to accomplish diplomatic objectives.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, en route to the U.S. from the Middle East, also commended the resolution. It makes suspension of uranium enrichment programs mandatory, not voluntary, she said, “so we will now see whether the Iranians decide to defy the Security Council or to take the alternative path that’s been allowed for them.” Referring to the incentives proposed in exchange for Iran’s cooperation she said, “They’re still within their rights to have a civil nuclear program that does not have as a part of it activities that they can use to cover a nuclear program.”

Speaking at the United Nations after the vote, Bolton said, “We hope that Iran makes the strategic decision that the pursuit of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] programs make it less and not more secure."

Iran has not cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for three years, Bolton said.  Four months have passed since the council called on Iran to suspend its nuclear programs and almost two months have gone by since the five permanent members of the Security Council  - China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States - and Germany (often referred to as the EU3-plus-three) offered a package of energy, commercial and technological incentives in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment.

The July 31 resolution was adopted by a vote of 14 to 1 with Qatar voting "no."  Qatar Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said, "We do not agree with the resolution at a time when our region is in flames."

The resolution, the first concerning Iran’s nuclear program, demands that Iran "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA."

Adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, the resolution is binding on all member states. It calls on all states "to exercise vigilance and prevent the transfer of any items, materials, goods, and technology that could contribute to Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and ballistic missile programs."

The council stressed that the IAEA must continue its work in Iran to clarify all outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear program, emphasizing "its determination to reinforce the authority of the IAEA process." It strongly supported the agency's board of governors.

If the IAEA reports that Iran has not suspended all enrichment activities by August 31, the council said that it intends "to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41," of the U.N. Charter "to persuade Iran to comply with this resolution and the requirements of the IAEA." Article 41 of the U.N. Charter pertains to sanctions.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Javad Zarif, rejected the resolution, maintaining that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said the European members of the EU3-plus-three group "want Iran to respond positively to our package but the package is quite clear about what it offers and what it requires of Iran."

"If Iran is prepared to take those steps then we are prepared to move ahead constructively," Jones Parry said.

For additional information, see Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.