Sunday, December 24, 2006

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to sanction Iran until it halts efforts to make nuclear fuel, drawing a quick rejection from the Islamist nation and threats of further penalties from the United States.

The resolution calls on governments to “prevent the supply, sale or transfer … of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology” related to Iran’s suspect nuclear efforts or missiles.

The four-page resolution also includes an addendum of people, corporations and government bodies whose assets are to be frozen.

In addition, it provides a list of individuals whose international travel is to be “monitored,” a concession to Russia, which had objected to a proposed travel ban on officials connected to Iran’s nuclear program.

The Bush administration said it would seek further measures against Iran.

“We don’t think this resolution is enough in itself. We want the international community to take further action,” R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said in Washington.

Iran, which claims its efforts are devoted to producing nuclear energy and not weapons, said from Tehran yesterday that it “has not delegated its destiny to the invalid decisions of the U.N. Security Council.”

The United States had sought tougher penalties in the resolution, but the effort was opposed by Russia and China, which wield vetoes on the council and have strong commercial interests in Iran.

Russia is building Iran’s first atomic power plant at Bushehr, which is not mentioned in the resolution.

Of particular concern in Washington and Europe are uranium-enrichment facilities in Nantaz and a heavy-water plant at Arak. Both remained secret until being exposed in 2002 by the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), an exiled opposition group.

NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi called the resolution important and necessary, but she urged tougher measures, including an oil embargo.

“Since acquiring the atomic bomb for the regime is vital and strategic to its survival, the ultimate and definitive solution is democratic change by the Iranian people,” Mrs. Rajavi told The Washington Times.

Under the U.N. resolution, a sanctions committee will be set up by the council to monitor Iran and collect information from nations about their trade with Iran.

The language also makes clear that additional political and diplomatic pressure may be applied if Tehran refuses to comply with the council’s demand to halt nuclear activities and provide information and access sought by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“This resolution provides an important basis for action,” said Alejandro Wolff, the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Adoption of the resolution caps a year of negotiations and shifting tactics, as relations between Tehran and IAEA steadily deteriorated.

Western governments watched with alarm as Tehran began enriching uranium, which can be used to power nuclear-energy plants or build nuclear weapons.

The council resolution was drafted by France, Britain and Germany, with Russia reluctantly supporting it.

The IAEA says it has not yet received answers to questions posed nearly a year ago, and its director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei, says that he cannot be certain Iran is not trying to develop a weapons program.

Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif denounced what he called the council’s double standard.

He said the U.N. panel had not done anything to criticize Israel, whose prime minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared to confirm the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons in remarks earlier this month.

“The reversal of the hypocritical policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ by the Israeli regime has removed any excuse — if there ever were any — for continued inaction by the council in the face of this actual threat to international peace and security,” Mr. Zarif said.

He said Iran had “inalienable rights” to develop nuclear energy.

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