Security Council sets deadline over Iran nuclear program

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Monday, July 31, 2006

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution today demanding Iran halt all "enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development" before August 31. The resolution was passed under Article 40, Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which sets the stage for possible economic sanctions if Iran does not comply with the resolution, but does not authorise military action. Iran's envoy to the UN has rejected the move.

The resolution, number 1696, was drafted by the permanent five members of the council and was passed by a 14-1 vote, with Qatar, the only Arab member of the council voting against.

The resolution expressed "serious concern" at Iran's non-compliance with the IAEA's demand to halt enrichment and other activities and asked the IAEA director to report on Iran's compliance by the end of August. This is the first legally binding demand on Iran to halt enrichment work, and the first to suggest possible sanctions. The resolution says that "appropriate measures" will be taken if Iran does not comply, but does not explicitly state any threat of sancions.

Iran's ambassador to the UN, Javad Zarif told the Reuters news agency, "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,"

Valery Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN said the deadline was meant to meet Iran's request to allow it to consider an offer made in June by the permanent five and Germany, offering Iran a "package" of sops in return for giving up enrichment activities.

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