Friday, May 21, 2010

New Draft of Sanctions Against Iran

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has developed a new draft of sanctions against Iran -- the fourth in number. Most of the points do not legally obligate the countries to take harsh steps against the Islamic Republic. However, the present sanctions may prove to be the most effective. This time, Russia and China are promising to follow most of the nonmandatory recommendations.

The UNSC members coordinated a draft resolution on introducing new sanctions against Iran. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking before journalists at the conclusion of the negotiations, particularly noted that Washington had managed to secure even the support or Russia and China. Both of these countries have the right of veto in the UNSC, and up until now had called for diplomatic methods of struggle against the Iranian nuclear program. The threat that they might block tightening of sanctions against Iran forced the US to opt for significant concessions on its part.

10-Page Draft Resolution
The 10-page draft resolution is the result of a compromise of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, the US, China, Great Britain and France). On 19 May, the document was sent for familiarization to the other 10 interim members of the Security Council, which change by a system of rotation. It is expected that the Security Council will finally approve this document in June.

The main concession that the US had to opt for to appease the moderate Russia and China consisted of the fact that most of the points of the draft resolution are recommendatory, and not compulsory, in nature.

Initially, Washington had insisted on 'blacklisting' major cargo shippers of Iran - the Iran Shipping Lines and the IranAir Cargo airline company. Both companies, as the US suspects, play a leading role in Iranian arms deliveries, including to the fighters of Hamas and Hezbollah, and in acquisition of equipment for development of a nuclear program. The final version of the resolution merely recommends that countries perform inspections of Iranian vessels, which may be transporting the forbidden cargo.

Nevertheless, the draft calls for a ban on providing access to ports for Iranian ships if there are justifiable suspicions that they are carrying arms on board. The proposed sanctions also prohibit Iran from selling certain types of arms (beginning with fighter planes and ending with antimissile systems) and technologies, which are associated with ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads.

The resolution recommends that the participant countries refrain from transfer of capital to Iran, including to Iranian bank branches. Furthermore, the draft resolution introduces additional sanctions in regard to insuring deliveries of Iranian raw materials, but, again, only on a voluntary basis.

Russia, China Change Stand
Despite the relatively mild variant of the resolution, this time the US Administration did not express dissatisfaction with the Russian and Chinese positions on this matter. Furthermore, Susan Rice, US Permanent Representative to the UN, emphasized that this document was the result of many months of fruitful consultations with partners. Previously, the US diplomats had repeatedly signaled that Russia and China were assuming a harsher position in regard to Teheran's nuclear ambitions, and that this time they are ready to actually fulfill the instructions of the Security Council resolution.

The New York Times, reported on 19 May that the US had conducted negotiations with Russia and China up until the last moment. Russia had insisted on its right to supply conventional weapons to Iran, while China was striving to get guarantees of retaining its energy investments in the Islamic Republic.

As a result, Vitaliy Churkin, Russian Federation's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, announced that the current draft resolution is written 'in entirely acceptable language.' His Chinese counterpart, Li Baodong, in turn, called the text well balanced, and added: 'The significance of the sanctions is to return the Iranian side to the negotiating table. Sanctions should not hit at the ordinary people, and should not hinder trade.' Judging by the statements of the Chinese diplomat, the People's Republic of China is prepared to return Iran to dialogue.

Demanding Radical Review
Speaking in an interview with GZT.RU, Near East Institute President Yevgeniy Satanovskiy stated that, at the present moment, all of the prerequisites have been formed for Russia and China to review their mild approach to the Iranian authorities.
'For Russia, unlike China, Iran is a direct competitor on the international arena. First and foremost, this is manifested in the dispute on delineation of boundaries in the Caspian Sea. Iran is uncompromisingly demanding a radical review of these territories, which is unacceptable for Moscow,' the expert said. 'Furthermore, the uranium deal between Iran, Brazil and Turkey has become an obvious 'slap in the face' of Moscow on the part of Tehran, and this forced the Russian Federation to seriously ask: How long can it give the Islamic Republic a helping hand?'

This agreement, concluded by Tehran, Brazil and Ankara on 17 May, allows Iran to exchange its low-enriched uranium for supplementally enriched fuel on Turkish territory. Citing diplomats who are familiar with the text of this agreement, Satanovskiy called it a bad copy of the first uranium deal, which Russia and France had proposed to the Islamic Republic at the end of last year. The negotiations on that agreement were discontinued by Tehran for no apparent reason.

Ratification Process
The position of Brazil and Turkey in regard to Iran remains unclear. Both sides are non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, and may hinder the ratification of the resolution in order to avoid conflict with Iran. At the same time, the desire of these countries to play a more significant role in the international arena may influence the ratification process. Similar uncertainty is also noted in regard to China.
On one hand, Beijing has approved the tightened sanctions against Tehran, and on the other, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China previously highly appraised and welcomed the conclusion of the agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil.

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