Security Council To Proceed with Iran Sanctions, Ministers Declare

By Howard Cincotta
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington – With Iran's continuing refusal to suspend its nuclear enrichment program, the U.N. Security Council will begin discussions on imposing mandatory sanctions, according to an October 6 statement issued in London by the foreign ministers of the council's permanent members, along with representatives of Germany and the European Union (EU).

The ministers expressed deep disappointment that after being offered "far-reaching ... economic and political cooperation," including a chance to build a strong civilian nuclear program, Iran remains unwilling to suspend its enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.

The diplomatic group conducting nuclear talks with Iran is known as P5+1. It comprises the five permanent members of the Security Council – the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the United States – plus Germany and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Javier Solana.

The statement notes that the suspension of nuclear activities was mandated by both the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Security Council Resolution 1696, and will now lead to consultations on sanctions by the council. (See related article.)

Speaking in London after the meeting, R. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs, said that the P5+1 group had given Iran more than four months to respond to its June 1 offer, which he characterized "a very generous package of economic and technological and scientific incentives."

Iranian nuclear negotiator and foreign affairs adviser Ali Larijani has held extensive talks with Solana, and this week also had conversations with Russia's national security adviser, Burns said. He added that Iran received several deadline extensions to continue negotiations and reach an agreement that met the demands of the IAEA and the United Nations.

Nevertheless, Burns said, "the report by Solana and the others was that the Iranians just aren't even close to coming to an agreement to suspend their enrichment programs."

The foreign ministers are agreed on the need for international sanctions, Burns said, but must decide on their extent and nature. He described a "two page menu" that was drawn up at the time of the June 1 offer to Iran. Although he declined to say how long the process might take, Burns expressed confidence that the agreed-upon sanctions would be drawn from the that list.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1696, adopted July 31, states that Iran faces such sanctions if it does not halt its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities. (See related article.)

Iran has claimed that its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only, but has rejected proposals of civilian program assistance and international monitoring to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted into a weapons program.

Burns said the original offer of June 1 “is going to remain on the table,” but added that “Iran has to realize that it’s missing a major opportunity … to negotiate with the United States for the first time in 27 years.”

The full text of the P5+1 statement on Iran's nuclear program and the transcript of Burns' briefing are available on the State Department Web site.

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