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Security Council Resolution 1696 Calling on Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment
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Contact: Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102

Updated: August 2006

On July 31, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1696 calling on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, as well as undertake several confidence-building measures outlined in a February International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors resolution. Fourteen countries voted in favor of the Security Council resolution; only Qatar voted against it.

A nonbinding Security Council presidential statement adopted in March called on Iran to take the same steps. (See ACT, April 2006.)

The council has called on Tehran to suspend its program as a gestture of good faith.  Iran has advanced its enrichment capability as a bargaining tactic to win greater concessions from its international interlocutors.  (See ACT, June 2006.)

Stating that the council is “acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in order to make mandatory the suspension required by the IAEA,”  the resolution warns Iran that its failure to comply by August 31 could result in punitive Security Council measures, such as economic sanctions. The resolution expresses the council’s “intention…to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations” if Iran does not cooperate. However, such measures will not be adopted automatically. The resolution “underlines” that the council must undertake “further decisions…should such additional measures be necessary.”

The resolution represents the interntaional community’s latest effort to encourage Iran to answer the IAEA’s remaining questions about its nuclear activities (see ACT, March 2006), suspend its enrichment program, and begin negotiations on the latest diplomatic offer to address the crisis.

On June 6, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States offered a new package of incentives and disincentives to Iran designed to persuade it to end its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, July/August 2006.)

A June 29 statement from the Group of Eight Foreign Ministers’ meeting expressed disappointment at Tehran’s failure to respond to the offer. On July 12, the foreign ministers from the six countries who made the offer noted that “Iran has failed to take the steps needed to allow negotiations to begin, specifically the suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.” The statement added, “we have no choice but to return to the United Nations Security Council” and develop an appropriate resolution.

Iranian officials had previously indicated that Tehran would respond to the June 6 proposal by August 22.

Iran’s Early Response to the Resolution
Iranian officials have criticized the Security Council resolution. Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Javad Zarif described the resolution as an instrument of international “pressure and coercion” directed at Iran, adding that “this approach…can only exacerbate the situation.”  But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “we will respond to the package of incentives by the time we end our study on it,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported August 2.

Relevant Excerpts of Resolution 1696

A full copy can be found at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8792.doc.htm

Acting under Article 40 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations in order to make mandatory the suspension required by the IAEA,

“1.   Calls upon Iran without further delay to take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors in its resolution GOV/2006/14, which are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme and to resolve outstanding questions,

“2.   Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA,

“3.   Expresses the conviction that such suspension as well as full, verified Iranian compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that guarantees Iran’s nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes, underlines the willingness of the international community to work positively for such a solution, encourages Iran, in conforming to the above provisions, to re-engage with the international community and with the IAEA, and stresses that such engagement will be beneficial to Iran,

“4. Endorses, in this regard, the proposals of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the support of the European Union’s High Representative, for a long-term comprehensive arrangement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme (S/2006/521),

“5.   Calls upon all States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent the transfer of any items, materials, goods and technology that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and ballistic missile programmes,

“6.   Expresses its determination to reinforce the authority of the IAEA process, strongly supports the role of the IAEA Board of Governors, commends and encourages the Director General of the IAEA and its Secretariat for their ongoing professional and impartial efforts to resolve all remaining outstanding issues in Iran within the framework of the Agency, underlines the necessity of the IAEA continuing its work to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme, and calls upon Iran to act in accordance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol and to implement without delay all transparency measures as the IAEA may request in support of its ongoing investigations,

“7.   Requests by 31 August a report from the Director General of the IAEA primarily on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in this resolution, as well as on the process of Iranian compliance with all the steps required by the IAEA Board and with the above provisions of this resolution, to the IAEA Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council for its consideration,

“8.   Expresses its intention, in the event that Iran has not by that date complied with this resolution, then to adopt appropriate measures under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to persuade Iran to comply with this resolution and the requirements of the IAEA, and underlines that further decisions will be required should such additional measures be necessary,

“9.   Confirms that such additional measures will not be necessary in the event that Iran complies with this resolution,

“10.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

Relevant Chapter VII Articles

Article 39
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Article 40
In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.

Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Posted: August 15, 2006