U.S. Approves New Sanctions Against Iran
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Im Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And Im Melissa Block.
The United Nations Security Council has agreed to a new round of sanctions against Iran. The goal: to pressure Tehran to curb its nuclear ambitions. President Obama called it an unmistakable message, but two countries that voted against the resolution say the sanctions will only hurt chances of ending the standoff over Irans nuclear program.
NPRs Michele Kelemen reports.
MICHEL KELEMEN: These were not the crippling sanctions that Obama administration officials once said they would seek, but U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice says they are the strongest to date with clear goals.
Ambassador SUSAN E. RICE (U.S. Ambassador to United Nations): The sanctions aim squarely at the nuclear ambitions of a government that has chosen a path that will lead to increased isolation. These sanctions are as tough as they are smart and precise.
KELEMEN: The resolution expands the U.N. arms embargo and imposes a framework for cargo inspections to try to prevent Iran from acquiring items that could help its nuclear or missile programs. It also targets the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Two council members voted against the resolution, Brazil and Turkey, while Lebanon abstained. Brazils ambassador, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, said through an interpreter that this fourth round of sanctions will hurt chances for diplomacy.
Ambassador MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Ambassador to United Nations, Brazil): In our view, the adoption of new sanctions by the Security Council will delay rather than accelerate or ensure progress in addressing the question.
KELEMEN: Brazil and Turkey had recently persuaded Iran to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel for a Tehran research reactor. The U.S., Russia and France formally responded to that deal only today, saying, among other things, it didnt account for the fact that Iran is enriching uranium to higher levels now in violation of previous U.N. resolutions. The timing of that formal announcement was one reason that Turkey voted against the resolution, according to Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan.
Ambassador ERTUGRUL APAKAN (Ambassador to United Nations, Turkey): That it has been sent on the day of the adoption of the sanctions resolution had a determining affect on our position.
KELEMEN: Diplomats who voted in favor of the sanctions took pains to say that the door is open to further negotiations with Iran, and they thank Turkey and Brazil for attempting to open a diplomatic window. Irans ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, responded defiantly, saying his country wont bow to pressure.
Ambassador MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Ambassador to United Nations, Iran): No amount of pressure and mischief will be able to break our nation's determination to pursue and defend its legal and inalienable rights.
KELEMEN: Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but President Obama says Iran hasn't been able to convince the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog of that.
President BARACK OBAMA: We recognize Iran's rights, but with those rights come responsibilities. And time and again, the Iranian government has failed to meet those responsibilities.
KELEMEN: In his statement from the White House today, President Obama said that he was, from the start of his administration, ready to pursue diplomatic solutions to the nuclear standoff with Iran.
Pres. OBAMA: I want to be clear. These sanctions do not close the door on diplomacy. Iran continues to have the opportunity to take a different and better path.
KELEMEN: For now, President Obama is clearly on the pressure path which started under the Bush administration. He says the U.S. and its partners will vigorously enforce what he calls the most comprehensive sanctions that Iran has ever faced.
Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
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