The UN Security Council ratcheted up sanctions on Iran on Monday for refusing to suspend nuclear enrichment and other sensitive activities, but Tehran dismissed the decision as illegal.
There were 14 votes in favour, none against and one country, Indonesia, abstained. Previous sanctions resolutions were adopted unanimously in December 2006 and March 2007, but council envoys said Monday’s message to Iran was a strong one.
Iran denounced the current and previous resolutions as violations of international law and said they only harmed the 15-nation Security Council’s standing.
“The credibility of the Security Council... is readily downgraded to a mere tool of the national foreign policy of just a few countries,” Iran’s UN ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, told the council before the vote.
He also dismissed as “baseless” new US intelligence suggesting Iran had conducted an intensive study into building atomic weapons, saying his country’s nuclear programme “has been, is and will remain absolutely peaceful”.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog’s governing board in Vienna, Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency’s head, urged Tehran to clear up the matter swiftly.
“I urge Iran to be as active and cooperative as possible in working with the agency to clarify this matter of serious concern,” ElBaradei told the 35-nation policy-making board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The sanctions resolution calls for more travel and financial curbs on Iranian individuals and companies and makes some restrictions mandatory. It also expands a previous partial ban on trade in items with both civilian and military uses to cover sales of all such technology to Iran.
The new resolution adds the names of 13 individuals and 12 companies to the list of people and firms suspected of aiding Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes. One of the individuals is Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, who it says had tried to skirt UN sanctions.
In addition, it calls for increased vigilance over Iranian financial institutions and says countries should be especially wary of two large Iranian banks — Bank Melli and Bank Saderat. Dealings with Iran’s Bank Sepah were banned last year.
Tehran has so far ignored all council and IAEA resolutions demanding it freeze its uranium enrichment program, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.