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UN Approves Tighter Sanctions Against Iran

The UN Security Council approved the third set of sanctions against Iran in 15 months. Germany's foreign minister welcomed the resolution as a "sign of the international community's resolve."

Nuclear reactor in Bushehr, Iran

Despite sanctions, Iran has stepped up its nuclear fuel work, says the IAEA

In response to Iran's refusal to halt nuclear fuel work, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and eight of its nine non-permanent members voted Monday; March 3, to tighten existing economic and trade sanctions. Indonesia abstained from the vote.

"We want to work with Iran as a member of the international community and support Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program," German Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Matussek told reporters after the vote. "But we must show that we have serious intentions and while we are negotiating, it's impossible if one of the partners moves the goal posts. Iran must suspend uranium enrichment."

The UN's atomic watchdog met to discuss the Iranian nuclear dossier on Tuesday.

"Iran would do well to listen to what the international community is asking it," one western diplomat told the AFP news agency ahead of the meeting on the condition of anonymity. "Obviously, we are now considering the next steps in light of last night's clear and firm decision by the UN Security Council."

Restrictions on trade and travel

Javier Solana

Council members want Solana to jumpstart talks

The UN resolution, drafted in January by Britain, France and Germany, calls on the members of the Security Council to prevent the supply, sale or transfer directly or indirectly from their territories of nuclear technology for Iran. They are to inspect suspicious goods transported to or from Iran by plane or ship.

It also urges the states to "exercise vigilance" in entering into financial or trade agreements with Iran and to monitor their financial institutions' association with Iranian banks.

Thirteen individuals and 12 companies were added to the list of those closely suspected of being involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. They have given an outright travel ban.

Three-month deadline

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna was asked to submit a report in 90 days on "whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities" related to its nuclear program.

In addition, the five permanent members plus Germany have asked EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to meet with Dr. Saeed Jalili of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, to reopen negotiations and bring an end to the stalemate, said British UN Ambassador John Sawers.

UN Security Council

None of the Security Council members voted against the sanctions

If Iran fails to abide by the Council's demands, it will "adopt further appropriate measures to persuade Iran to comply with these resolutions and the requirements of the IAEA," according to the resolution.

Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammed Khazee called the UN sanctions "totally illegitimate and illegal" as well as a breach of international law that jeopardized the credibility of the Security Council.

"We are once again witnessing the bitter reality that the Security Council's position is belittled to an extent to serve as an instrument at the service of the foreign policy of a few countries," said Iran's ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaie.

Iran tops IAEA agenda

The resolution came a week after IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei for the first time referenced evidence of nuclear weapons plans allegedly found by US secret service agents. The IAEA Board of Governors is expected to approve an additional resolution against Iran later this week.

Previous sanctions have failed to keep Iran from developing its uranium enrichment program, which the West suspects is being used to create nuclear weapons. Iranian officials maintain that its nuclear activities are purely meant for civilian energy production.

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