Security Council Broadens Iran Sanctions

Paul Kerr

Responding to Iran 's continuing failure to comply with demands to halt key parts of its nuclear program, the UN Security Council March 24 unanimously adopted new restrictions on Tehran and expanded the scope of existing ones. The resolution also set the stage for additional sanctions if Iran continues to defy UN resolutions.

Resolution 1747 “reaffirms that Iran shall without further delay take the steps required” by a resolution that the council adopted in December, Resolution 1737. Those requirements include a demand that Iran suspend all activities related to its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, January/February 2007.)

Iran claims that it intends to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. But the program has elicited concern because uranium enrichment can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons as well as fuel for nuclear energy production.

The new resolution also requests that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei submit a report within 60 days to the Security Council and to the IAEA Board of Governors regarding Iran 's compliance. A failure by Iran to comply could result in additional sanctions.

Tehran has shown no indication that it intends to suspend its enrichment program. Rather, Iran has said that it will scale back its cooperation with the IAEA.

Germany and the five permanent Security Council members— China , France , Russia , the United Kingdom , and the United States —decided in February to draft the new resolution. Their decision followed a report from ElBaradei that said Iran had not complied with Resolution 1737. (See ACT, March 2007.) That resolution imposed sanctions on Tehran , limiting its ability to obtain materials that could aid its nuclear and missile programs. It also warned that the council would adopt “further appropriate” nonmilitary measures if Iran did not comply with its demands.

Resolution 1747 is the council's third regarding Iran 's nuclear program. The first was Resolution 1696, which the council adopted in July 2006. That resolution followed a June 2006 offer of incentives from Germany and the permanent council members intended to encourage Iran to end its uranium-enrichment program. Although Tehran indicated in an August response to the proposal that it wished to negotiate a solution to resolve international concerns about the program, Iran did not agree to suspend it. (See ACT, September 2006.)

On March 8, the IAEA Board of Governors took action to follow through on steps outlined in Resolution 1737 by suspending 22 technical assistance projects with Iran . A provision in that resolution states that the agency should limit its technical cooperation with Tehran to “humanitarian purposes.” An exception is made, however, to particular projects directly related to light-water nuclear reactors. ElBaradei described the relevant projects in an early February report.

The Details

An initial draft of Resolution 1747 by France , Germany , and the United Kingdom was revised, partially to reflect the wishes of Russia and China. For example, two European diplomats told Arms Control Today March 27 that the original draft included outright bans both on the travel of relevant Iranian officials and on arms exports to Iran . The final resolution contains weaker versions of these restrictions.

Nonpermanent members of the Security Council also weighed in after the permanent members had achieved consensus. Qatar, Indonesia, and South Africa offered amendments, but only slight modifications were incorporated into the final resolution. For example, it refers to a 2006 IAEA board resolution that stated that “a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to…realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.”

The resolution reiterates Resolution 1737's provision that if Iran suspends its enrichment-related activities, the council “shall suspend the implementation of measures if and for so long as” the suspension holds. Similarly, the council “shall terminate” the sanctions if it has determined that “ Iran has fully complied with its obligations.”

A March 24 joint statement from Germany and the five permanent council members articulated similar conditions and voiced continued support for the June 2006 offer.

Resolution 1747 also states that the council will adopt “further appropriate” nonmilitary measures if Iran does not comply.


Resolution 1747 does not require any additional actions from Tehran . But it imposes some new restrictions and expands the scope of the sanctions described in the previous resolution. For example, the resolution newly designates 28 Iranian officials and entities as subject to travel and financial restrictions described in Resolution 1737.

Additionally, Resolution 1747 strengthens a previous provision requesting governments “to exercise vigilance regarding the entry into or transit through their territories” of certain Iranian officials. The new resolution says that governments should also exercise “restraint” in admitting such officials. A European diplomat told Arms Control Today March 27 that the idea is for governments to refuse designated officials permission to travel unless there is good reason to do otherwise.

The resolution imposes new restrictions on Tehran , particularly in the area of weapons transfers. For example, it “decides that Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly…any arms or related materiel.” Similarly, the resolution calls on other countries to “exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply, sale or transfer” of certain weapons to Iran .

Additionally, the resolution calls on governments and international financial institutions to refrain from “enter[ing] into new commitments for grants, financial assistance and concessional loans” to the Iranian government, “except for humanitarian and developmental purposes.” However, neither this requirement nor the provision regarding arms exports to Iran is legally binding.

All governments are to report on their implementation of the sanctions to a committee established by Resolution 1737.

Expanded Focus?

Although the previous resolution targeted Iran 's nuclear and missile programs, another European diplomat acknowledged that Resolution 1747 brings more “political” pressure on Tehran . However, the official emphasized that “all we want is for Iran to end its proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities.”

Asked during a March 20 press briefing about the relationship between a ban on Iranian arms exports and Tehran's nuclear program, U.S. Acting Permanent Representative to the UN Alejandro Wolff said that Iran's military “derives revenues from its military exports” and implied that the military is involved in the country's nuclear programs. The first European diplomat agreed that their is “overlap” between Iran 's military and nuclear programs.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, however, indicated during a March 24 call with reporters that the arms export ban is part of a broader effort to “block and contain Iranian power [in] the Middle East,” arguing that Tehran's arms exports to groups that the United States considers to be terrorist organizations are part of a strategy to exert influence in the region.

Iran Reacts

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said after the resolution's adoption that suspension is “neither an option nor a solution” but reiterated that Iran is willing to negotiate about its nuclear program without suspending it.

Tehran announced the next day that it would cut back its cooperation with the IAEA. Government spokesperson Gholam-Hossein Elham said Iran would stop complying with certain subsidiary modifications to its IAEA safeguards agreement, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported March 26. Iran agreed to the modifications in February 2003. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Those modifications require Tehran to provide design information for new nuclear facilities as soon as it authorizes construction. Previously, Iran was required to provide design information for new facilities six months before introducing nuclear material.

Subsidiary arrangements specify in detail how the procedures contained in a country's IAEA safeguards agreement should be implemented. Such agreements, which are required under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), allow the agency to monitor NPT states-parties' declared civilian nuclear activities.

IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming told Arms Control Today March 28 that the agency had not yet received any official communication from Iran on the matter.

Meanwhile, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, continued efforts to persuade Iran to negotiate. According to Reuters, Solana spoke March 26 by phone with Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran 's Supreme National Security Council and Iran 's lead nuclear negotiator. Solana's spokesperson, Cristina Gallach, said that “there was no discussion of substance” but added that the two had agreed to speak again soon.

UN Security Council Resolution 1747 on Iran

The UN Security Council March 24 unanimously adopted Resolution 1747 after Iran failed to take several steps called for in past resolutions, including suspending activities related to its uranium-enrichment program. The new resolution widens the scope of the sanctions imposed on Iran in Security Council Resolution 1737. Adopted in December 2006, that resolution freezes the assets and restricts the travel of individuals engaged in the country's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities. (See ACT, January/February 2007.)

Resolution 1747 states that “a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.” The statement was the product of a compromise designed to ease the concerns of developing and Arab states.

Resolution 1747 was adopted under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, which pertains to nonmilitary sanctions. Under this article, the Security Council “may decide what measures not invoking the use of armed force” are needed “to maintain or restore international peace and security.” In particular, the resolution:

• Reaffirms that Iran must suspend all of its activities related to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, including construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water. The suspension of all of these activities must be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

• Reaffirms that Iran shall provide such access and cooperation as the IAEA requests to be able to verify the suspension and to resolve all outstanding issues, as identified in past IAEA reports. It also calls on Iran to ratify promptly its version of the 1997 Model Additional Protocol, which substantially expands the agency's ability to check for clandestine nuclear facilities or activities.

• Calls on all states also to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with, or providing support for Iran 's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems. The resolution decides that all states shall notify a Security Council committee established by Resolution 1696 of the movement of additional Iranian officials designated in an annex to the new resolution.

• Decides that Iran shall not supply, sell, or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related material and that all states shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.

• Calls on all states to exercise vigilance and restraint in supplying Iran with battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles, or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the UN Register on Conventional Arms. It urges similar restraint in providing Iran with any related technical or financial assistance.

• Calls on all states and international financial institutions not to enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans to Iran , except for humanitarian and developmental purposes.

• Calls on all states to report to the enforcement committee within 60 days on steps they have taken to implement the sanctions.

• Stresses that diplomatic engagement by Iran will be to its benefit. It reminds Iran that a June offer of incentives from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany to Tehran remains on the table.

• Requests within 60 days a report from IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei on whether Iran has complied with the resolution.

• Affirms that the council will suspend the implementation of sanctions if the IAEA has verified that Iran has suspended the relevant nuclear activities.

• Affirms that the council will lift sanctions if Iran complies with previous Security Council resolutions and meets the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors.

• Affirms that if Iran does not comply with the resolution, the council will adopt further nonmilitary sanctions.