08/01/2006, 00.00
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UN ultimatum to defiant Iran

 The Security Council has approved a resolution against Teheran: "end all uranium enrichment activities by 31 August or face sanctions." The Iranian ambassador to the UN: "This is an illegal request".

New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United Nations Security Council has called on Iran to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment by 31 August or to face possible sanctions. After long negotiations, the United States finally managed to convince Russia and China to pass the resolution. Until yesterday, they were opposed to it. Approved by 14 votes to 1 (Qatar), the resolution is the first legally binding step against Teheran and a threat to consider sanctions.

If Iran does not accept the demand, the Security Council reserves the right to adopt "adequate measures" on the basis of Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which pertains to economic sanctions but rules out military options.

Teheran responded with a sharp "no". The Iranian ambassador to the UN, Javad Zarif, said the demand had no legal basis. He said: "Iran's peaceful nuclear programme poses no threat to international peace and security and therefore dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility."

Iran insists on saying that its programme has merely peaceful ends, but the international community, spearheaded by the US, fears that the regime's true scope is to equip itself with atomic weapons.

Germany and the Security Council's five permanent members with veto power - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - negotiated the text. The six in June offered a package of energy, commercial and technological incentives if Teheran suspended its uranium enrichment. Iran said it would give its answer to the package on August 22, but yesterday's resolution and the development of war in Lebanon do not offer much hope for a positive response.

On the eve of the UN vote, on 30 July, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry had warned that any resolutions against Iran would kill the credibility of the 5+1 package. Previously the President himself, Ahmadinejad, had said that what was happening Lebanon and Palestine "had influenced consideration of the offer" made by the Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany in exchange for the renouncing of Iran's atomic plans.

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See also
IAEA deputy director general in Tehran, UN discusses new sanctions
Tehran open to "dialogue", mum on uranium enrichment
World begins to react to Tehran's decision to restart nuclear research
A glimmer of hope in the Iran nuclear stand-off
As UN deadline expires Tehran set to continue its nuclear programme


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