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New U.N. Resolution On Iran

Just days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution concerning Iran’s nuclear program. This resolution, UN Security Council Resolution 1835, reaffirms the Security Council demand for the Iranian government to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and other proliferation sensitive nuclear activities and cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA.

The resolution was proposed by the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany. The 6 nations have been pursuing a two-track strategy of incentives and sanctions to convince Iran to comply with its international obligations.

While Resolution 1835 imposes no additional penalties on Iran, it reaffirms three previous sets of sanctions targeting the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It also reaffirms the commitment by the Security Council to “an early negotiated settlement to the Iranian nuclear issue” and to remain seized of the matter.

The Security Council acted after a recent report by the IAEA said that Iran had expanded its uranium enrichment program and blocked IAEA access to relevant sites, documents, and scientists connected to its past efforts to develop a nuclear warhead. Because of the Iranian government’s lack of cooperation, the IAEA said it could not assure the international community that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.

Some observers thought it would be difficult for the P5+1 to maintain a united front on Iran because of tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Russia’s military incursion into Georgia in August. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the new resolution helps further “the primary goal” of the P5+1 -– “to help the IAEA ascertain that there is no military dimension to the nuclear program in Iran. ... The six [nations],” he said, “are committed to that aim.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the new resolution a very positive step that affirms the resolve of the international community and the P5+1 and lets “the Iranians know that that unity is very strong.” Secretary of State Rice also said that there is a process in place to look at what next steps the 6 nations will take to try to move Iran to comply with Security Council demands. “We’re considering a variety of ideas,” she said.