United States Sees Broadening of International Concern over Iran

By David Shelby
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington –The expanded scope of sanctions against Iran in a recent United Nations (U.N.) Security Council resolution highlights the council’s dual concerns about Iran – a concern with Iran’s defiance of international demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment program and a broader apprehension about Iran as a threat to international security, according to a senior U.S. official.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs James Jeffrey told journalists March 27 in Washington that Iran has threatened the existence of another U.N. member country, acted aggressively toward its neighbors and sponsored terrorist activities as far away as Argentina.

“It is right that the Security Council acts.  It is right that it acts under Chapter 7 [of the U.N. Charter], and most importantly it is right that it has broadened the targets of its sanctions to include not just those things that are directly on the nuclear program and long-range missiles, but the facilitators in the regime’s mechanism of terror and intimidation,” he said.

Security Council Resolution 1747, adopted March 24, moves beyond the measures set forth in its December 23, 2006, resolution to impose sanctions on a major Iranian bank and entities associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command, which finance and sponsor terrorist activities.  The resolution also prohibits the export of weapons from Iran, a measure aimed at stanching the flow of arms to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. (See related article.)

Jeffrey said it was also important that the measure earned the unanimous approval of all 15 members of the Security Council.  “This is extraordinary and it shows the concern of the international community,” he said.  “It is a very firm platform to take additional steps … if we don’t see a change of behavior on the part of the Iranians.”

He said the U.S. perception is that Iran rightfully is concerned about its position under Chapter 7 sanctions, which allow for the broadest range of political, economic and military measures if Iran fails to respect the council’s demands.  “This is the worst possible international legal position you can be in as a state,” he said.

Jeffrey said sanctions already are having an effect, noting that many countries already have moved beyond the basic sanctions outlined in the council’s December 2006 resolution and taken steps to reduce trade and financial relations with Iran.

“There is no doubt that the cumulative effect of this is having a major impact on the Iranian financial sector, is having a major impact on investments in Iran and is having a major impact on the Iranian hydrocarbon sector,” he said.

He said the strains created by the sanctions are evident in public criticism of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad’s policies both in the Iranian media and the parliament.

Jeffrey said the goal of the international community is to change Iran’s behavior and that it would continue raising the diplomatic pressure on Iran to achieve that end.

“We are confident and optimistic that we will have success with the diplomatic channel,” he said.  He said the sanctions are just one part of a broad diplomatic strategy of providing Iran with incentives and disincentives aimed at convincing it to bring its nuclear program into conformity with the demands of the international community.

Jeffrey expressed the hope that the March 24 resolution would persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities but added that the United States and its partners in the Security Council are prepared to pursue additional measures if the International Atomic Energy Agency reports back to the council in 60 days that Iran has not complied.

For further information on U.S. policy, see Limiting Nuclear Weapons and The United States and the United Nations.