March 15, 2007

UNSC Big Six Agree On Increased Sanctions For Iran

The main powers at the UN Security Council have agreed on increased sanctions against Iran for its intransigence on nuclear proliferation. The five permanent members and Germany will vote to expand the penalties that already has Iran's economy near a free-fall, a move that could destabilize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Ambassadors from six world powers reached agreement in principle on a proposed new package of sanctions against Iran and expect to introduce a resolution to the UN Security Council on Thursday if their governments give a green light, the US ambassador said.

Approval by the governments of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany would be an important first step. The package would still need to be considered by the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council who are elected for two-year terms and have not been part of the negotiations.

Nonetheless, an agreement by the five veto-wielding permanent members of the council and Germany would be a strong signal to the other council members of the unity of the key nations on the UN's most powerful body - and a sign that they want to send a united message to Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

The change will be incremental, as the US and UK could not get Russia and China to move more quickly to total isolation of Teheran. More individuals will have their assets frozen, more companies will get locked out of the international banking system, and Iran will have their arms exports blocked. The latter may not make a lot of difference, as the CIA Factbook doesn't list arms as a major export anyway, but what little there is will be locked out of the world market.

More significantly, the new sanctions bans new grants, loans, or financial assistance to the Iranian government, a step that Russia and China rejected in the last round. Teheran needs hard currency; their economic crisis has fueled an inflationary cycle in Iran that their gasoline shortage will magnify. They do not have self-sufficiency in most items, and their ability to buy necessities will degrade significantly without infusions of non-inflationary cash.

The Russian ambassador said that he hoped for a positive response from Iran. He may have already received it. The UNSC president, South Africa's Dumisani Kumalo, said that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has indicated his desire to come to New York and present Iran's case in rebuttal to the Security Council. That would indicate a significant desire to avoid the increased pressure -- which indicates a significant amount of pressure back home on the mullahcracy.

The sanctions apparently have had some salutory effect already.


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