Security Council imposes third round of sanctions on Iran; ElBaradei urges Iran to be as active and cooperative as possible in its working with the IAEA; Russia and China thwart Western attempt to introduce a resolution on Iran at the IAEA
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  • The UN Security Council imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Iran on March 3, 2008. The Council adopted its third resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme. Unlike the two previous resolutions which were adopted unanimously, this resolution saw one abstention by Indonesia which stated that it “remained to be convinced of the efficacy of adopting additional sanctions at this juncture.” The resolution authorises inspections of cargo to and from Iran that is suspected to include prohibited equipment, tightens monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and extends travel bans and asset freezes against persons and companies involved in the nuclear programme. Also, it adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions1.

    IAEA Director General, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei said, “I urge Iran to be as active and cooperative as possible in working with the agency to clarify this matter of serious concern2.” Iran’s ambassador to the Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, called the intelligence data “forged and fabricated” and denounced the new Security Council resolution on Monday as “irresponsible” and “an arrow aiming at the heart of” the atomic energy agency.

    In other news, Russia and China thwarted an attempt by the US and its allies to introduce a resolution on Iran's nuclear defiance at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Reports indicated that their decision was a result of lingering unhappiness about not being informed earlier of plans for such a resolution. Moscow had earlier in the week threatened not to back the new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran unless the West gave up its IAEA resolution plans3.

    Last week also saw Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say that Iran would henceforth only talk to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its nuclear programme. President Ahmadinejad said, “From now on, Iran's nuclear issue is only within the agency, within the framework of mutual obligations and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We won't negotiate with anyone outside the agency.” In light of these statements, it remains to be seen whether Iran would continue its talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana4.