Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pressure cooking

Iran blasted the U.N. Security Council yesterday for approving further sanctions on Tehran for refusing to stop enriching uranium. Iran's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Khazaee said the Security Council's credibility had been "downgraded" by the sanctions resolution, which was pushed by the United States and its European allies. The new sanctions include expanded travel and financial restrictions on Iranian companies and individuals as well as a total bar on the sale of items with dual civilian and military uses, according to the Reuters international news service. But Iran has ignored two previous sanctions resolutions, which it calls violations of international law, and continued its nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful uses only. The resolution passed the Security Council by a 14-0 vote, with Indonesia abstaining. Previous resolutions passed unanimously. At a meeting of the governing board of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency's leader, said Iran had to come clean about its nuclear activities. "I urge Iran to be as active and cooperative as possible in working with the agency," ElBaradei said. In a speech to the Security Council, British Ambassador John Sawers told the council that the five permanent members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and Germany were willing to sweeten the package of incentives promised to Iran if it stopped enriching uranium. Enriched uranium can be used to generate electric power but also for nuclear weapons.

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