The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Monday giving Iran until the end of August to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.
Iranian U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif Monday rejected the move, saying the action was without legal basis.
“Iran’s peaceful nuclear program 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,” Zarif told the council.
Because of Russian and Chinese demands, the text is weaker than earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold further discussions before it considers sanctions.
The draft passed by a vote of 14-1. Qatar, which represents Arab states on the council, cast the lone dissenting vote.
Tehran said last week it would reply to the Western incentive package on Aug. 22, but the council decided to go ahead with a resolution and not wait for Iran's response.
The resolution, under negotiation for weeks, demands Iran “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.”
If Tehran does not comply by Aug. 31, the council would consider adopting “appropriate measures” under Article 41 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which pertains to economic sanctions, says the draft.
The resolution is the first on Iran with legally binding demands and a threat to consider sanctions. The United States and its allies suspect Iran is developing a nuclear bomb and accuse it of hiding research over 18 years.
On the eve of the anticipated vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a news conference the resolution was unacceptable and his country had the right “to take advantage of peaceful nuclear technology.”
‘A discussion’ on punitive measures
Germany and the council’s five permanent members with veto power — the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain — negotiated the text.
But Russia and China are reluctant to impose sanctions and Moscow’s U.N. ambassador, Valery Churkin, has said the sanctions provision meant the council would have “a discussion” only on punitive measures.
Churkin also said the Aug. 31 date was to meet Iran’s request that it be given until Aug. 22 to respond to an offer in June from the six nations of an energy, commercial and technological package if Tehran suspended its nuclear work.
No military repercussions
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters before the vote, “Our message to Iran is that we are open to negotiations (and) the package is quite clear (in) what it offers and what it requires.”
“If Iran is prepared to take those steps then we can move forward constructively,” Jones Parry said.
The resolution is drafted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, Article 40, which says the council, before taking any action, can call on the those concerned to “comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary.”
Chapter 7 makes a resolution mandatory and provides options for enforcement. The document excludes any military action.