Ambassador Glyn Davies talks with reporters in Vienna at the IAEA board meeting March 3.
03 March 2010 Iran Could Face Further Economic Sanctions over Nuclear Program, March 3, 2010
By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Washington — The Iranian regime’s refusal to provide a full disclosure of its nuclear development program to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will leave the international community no choice but to pursue further, deeper economic sanctions, U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies said March 3.
The IAEA 35-nation board of governors is holding a weeklong meeting in Vienna, and the major topic has been Iran and its nuclear development program.
“Iran has not suspended its enrichment and heavy water-related programs, as required by the U.N. Security Council and the board of governors,” said Davis, who is the U.S. permanent representative to the IAEA in Vienna. Western nations fear that Iran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons. Uranium enrichment is one necessary component of weapons development to build a nuclear bomb.
“We find ourselves eight years into an investigation which Iran seems determined to defy, obfuscate and stymie,” Davies said.
The U.N. Security Council previously imposed three rounds of political and economic sanctions to convince Iranian leaders to halt uranium enrichment and give up plans for a weapons program. In November 2009, the IAEA board voted to censure Iran for building a second uranium enrichment plant at Qom, and the Iranian regime followed up by announcing plans to build 10 more plants to enrich uranium. Iran’s primary nuclear development facility is near the city of Natanz.
Newly elected IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told the board March 1 that his investigators “cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the agency with the necessary cooperation. I request Iran to take steps toward the full implementation of its safeguards agreement and its other obligations as a matter of high priority.”
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany have been conducting intensive talks with Iranian officials over their nuclear program. This group grew out of earlier efforts by Britain, France and Germany to convince Iran to suspend uranium enrichment in return for a package of incentives. Three years ago, the six powers also offered Iran a package of trade and diplomatic incentives to forgo its uranium enrichment efforts, and later added to the incentives, but Iranian authorities continued to reject suspension of uranium enrichment.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the Senate in February that a new set of sanctions is likely from the Security Council. But she also told another congressional committee that the United States may pursue another course.
“We will look at additional bilateral and preferably multilateral sanctions with willing nations, on top of whatever we get out of the Security Council,” Clinton said February 25 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Spanish delegation to the IAEA board meeting, which is representing the European Union, issued a strong warning to Iran to comply with Security Council resolutions or face a fourth set of sanctions. It has been reported by news media that the next set of sanctions could focus on the banking, shipping and insurance sectors of Iran’s economy.
Since 2006, the Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions that are still in effect. The first set concerns sensitive nuclear materials and froze the assets of individual Iranians and some companies. The second set included new arms and financial sanctions, and the third set added further travel and financial sanctions.
The United States shut Iran’s Bank Saderat out of the U.S. financial system in September 2006. It did the same thing to Bank Melli and Bank Mellat in October 2007. The United States has also sanctioned Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which controls the nuclear development program. And the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would require more and deeper sanctions.
The European Union has imposed visa bans on senior Iranian officials and Iran’s top nuclear and ballistics experts. Britain froze more than $1.6 billion in Iranian assets under EU- and U.N.-imposed sanctions. Britain has also frozen business ties with Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
“Iran’s continued production of low-enriched uranium and its move to enrich up to nearly 20 percent are, unfortunately, just the latest additions to the long list of steps Iran has taken in disregard of its obligations to all of us,” Davies told the IAEA board. “We hope that Iran will change its current course and seek the path of negotiations.”
“Not doing so leaves the international community no choice but to pursue further, deeper sanctions to hold Iran accountable,” he said.