BBC News | 27 July 2010 | 10:50 GMT
Russia has branded EU sanctions against Iran as "unacceptable", saying they undermine international efforts to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The European Union on Monday adopted new sanctions targeting Iran’s foreign trade, banking and energy sectors. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman has condemned the "deeply regrettable" sanctions and vowed to continue its uranium enrichment work. The EU measures go beyond the fourth set of UN sanctions adopted on 9 June. They include a ban on dealing with Iranian banks and insurance companies, as well as steps to prevent investment in Tehran’s oil and gas sector.
Russia, one of six world powers negotiating with Iran, supported the UN sanctions last month, but has objected to extra unilateral measures imposed by the US and EU since then. "This not only undermines our joint efforts to seek a political and diplomatic settlement around Iran’s nuclear programme, but also shows disdain for the carefully calibrated and co-ordinated provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions," the foreign ministry said in a statement. The use of sanctions outside of the UN Security Council framework is "unacceptable," the statement said. Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to heed repeated Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.
Reuters | Tue Jul 6, 2010 | 3:30am IST
Iran complained on Monday that its planes had been denied fuel in Germany, Britain and the United Arab Emirates, and Washington said commercial firms were making the "right choices" by cutting business ties with Tehran. The Financial Times newspaper said oil major BP had stopped refueling Iranian jets. BP declined to confirm the report but said: "We fully comply with any international sanctions imposed in countries where we operate." Pressure is mounting on Iran over its nuclear programme and the United States has stepped up its push to isolate Tehran economically. On Thursday, President Barack Obama signed into law far-reaching sanctions that aim to squeeze the Islamic Republic’s fuel imports and deepen its international isolation.
"Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America," Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, told Iran’s ISNA news agency. So far national carrier Iran Air and Mahan Airlines had been affected, he said. Washington has not spelled out whether its new sanctions are intended to require firms to refuse to fuel Iranian jets at airports in third countries, but U.S. officials made clear they were pleased with reports sanctions had begun to bite. "The costs of doing business with Iran, a country that is shirking its international obligations across the board and engaged in illicit activity, are rising," a senior Obama administration official said on Monday. "The international commercial sector is making the right choices. It’s now time for Iran to make the right choice — to fulfill its international obligations — that remains our primary objective," the official said.
A source in the UAE familiar with the issue said a private firm had refused to refuel an Iranian plane there, but the UAE had imposed no ban of its own. The source did not name the firm. "The UAE has nothing to do with it," the source said. "They (Iranian planes) are more than welcome." The source added: "It is just one company and there
Reuters | Tue Jun 22, 2010 | 12:35am IST
Iran has barred two U.N. nuclear inspectors from entering the Islamic Republic; increasing tension less than two weeks after Tehran was hit by new U.N. sanctions over its disputed atomic programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rejected Iran’s reasons for the ban and said it fully supported the inspectors, which Tehran has accused of reporting wrongly that some nuclear equipment was missing. "The IAEA has full confidence in the professionalism and impartiality of the inspectors concerned," spokesman Greg Webb said in an unusually blunt statement which described the IAEA’s report issued last month as "fully accurate". Iran, which has declared the two inspectors persona non grata, made clear it would still allow the Vienna-based U.N. watchdog to monitor its nuclear facilities, saying other experts could carry out the work. "Inspections are continuing without any interruption," Iran’s IAEA envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters in Vienna. "(But) we have to show more vigilance about the performance of the inspectors to protect the confidentiality," he said, criticising alleged leaks by inspectors to Western media.
Ties between Iran and the IAEA have become more strained since Yukiya Amano took over as head of the agency in December. The Japanese diplomat has taken a tougher approach on Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, with the IAEA saying in a February report that Iran could be trying to develop a nuclear-armed missile now, and not just in the past. Iran accused Amano of issuing a misleading report. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Tehran had asked the IAEA to replace the two inspectors, the ISNA news agency reported. The IAEA has not confirmed whether this will be the case. Iran has the right to refuse certain inspectors under its agreement with the agency, which has around 200 people trained to conduct inspections in the Islamic state. Iran denied entry to a senior U.N. inspector in 2006.
But if Iran continues to refuse inspectors it could face diplomatic retaliation at the IAEA, whose 35-nation Board of Governors reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council in 2006 over its nuclear secrecy and lack of full cooperation with inspectors. "It is worrisome that Iran has taken this step, which is symptomatic of its longstanding practice of
BBC News | Friday, 18 June 2010 | 09:54 GMT
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has criticised the unilateral US and EU sanctions on Iran that go beyond those approved by the UN Security Council. He said Russia "did not agree" to any separate sanctions when it backed a joint UN resolution last week. Meanwhile, Pentagon chief Robert Gates said US intelligence showed that Iran could be able to attack Europe with "scores" of missiles by 2020. He added that Russia seemed to have a "schizophrenic" approach to Iran. Moscow viewed Iran as a threat, but still pursued commercial ties with it, he told a US senate hearing in Washington. Western powers suspect Iran is seeking nuclear weapons – which Tehran denies.
In an interview that ran on Thursday, the Russian leader criticised the EU and US for acting unilaterally. "We didn’t agree to this when we discussed the joint resolution at the UN," Mr Medvedev told the Wall Street Journal. Russia this month agreed to back a fourth round of UN sanctions against Tehran, following months of US-led diplomacy. "A couple of years ago, that would have been impossible," Mr Medvedev said. "We should act collectively. If we do, we will have the desired result." The fresh EU sanctions approved in Brussels on Thursday include a ban on investments and technology transfers to Iran’s key oil and gas industry – measures that go further than the latest UN sanctions. Only a day earlier, the US announced sanctions that ban Americans from trading with a number of firms and individuals, including Iran’s Post Bank, its defence minister and the air force and missile command of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
BBC News | Wednesday, 9 June 2010 | 16:34 GMT
The UN Security Council has voted in favour of fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The council voted 12 to two, with one abstention, in favour of a fourth round of sanctions, including tighter finance curbs and an expanded arms embargo. The US welcomed the move and said Iran must choose a "wiser course". But Iran’s envoy to the UN’s nuclear watchdog Ali Asghar Soltanieh vowed Tehran would continue its uranium enrichment activities. "Nothing will change," he said. The US and its allies fear Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists its programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use.
The Security Council resolution was opposed by Turkey and Brazil. They had earlier brokered a deal with Iran on uranium enrichment. Lebanon abstained. The new sanctions were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China on Tuesday. There are no crippling economic sanctions and there is no oil embargo. Those passed include prohibiting Iran from buying heavy weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles. They also toughen rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks and increase the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted with asset freezes and travel bans. There is also a new framework of cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials.
Hailing the vote, the US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: "The Security Council has risen to its responsibilities and now Iran should choose a wiser course." UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision sent a "strong statement of international resolve", increasing the pressure on Iran to meet its obligations. German counterpart Guido Westerwelle said this was "a clear signal from the international community that atomic weapons for Iran are not acceptable". However, both Turkey and Brazil spoke out in opposition, saying the deal they had brokered with Iran had not been given time.
Reuters | Wed May 26, 2010 | 8:22pm IST
Iran and Russia clashed on Wednesday over Kremlin support for draft U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic, in one of the worst rows between the two powers since the Cold War. The public clash indicates growing concern in Tehran after the United States said Russia and China, the closest thing Iran has to big-power allies, had agreed to a draft sanctions resolution to punish Iran over its nuclear programme. In unusually strong criticism of Russia, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admonished the Kremlin for bowing to what he said was U.S. pressure to agree sanctions and bluntly warned President Dmitry Medvedev to be more cautious.
"If I were the Russian president, when making decisions about subjects related to a great nation (Iran) … I would act more cautiously, I would think more," Ahmadinejad said in a televised outdoor speech. He said that Russian support for the United States was unacceptable and that Moscow should rethink its decision or face being viewed as an enemy by Tehran. Within hours, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy adviser dismissed Ahmadinejad’s criticism, telling the Iranian president to refrain from "political demagoguery". "No one has ever managed to preserve one’s authority with political demagoguery. I am convinced, the thousand-year history of Iran itself is evidence of this," Sergei Prikhodko said in a statement read out by a Kremlin spokeswoman. "The Russian Federation is governed by its own long-term state interests. Our position is Russian: it reflects the interests of all the peoples of greater Russia and so it can be neither pro-American nor pro-Iranian," he said.
BBC News | Wednesday, 19 May 2010 | 11:28 GMT
The head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation has said newly-proposed sanctions on Iran will backfire. Ali Akbar Salehi said the sanctions would lead to the major world powers who back them being "discredited". He is the highest-ranking Iranian official to speak since the proposals were tabled at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. The proposals come just a day after Tehran agreed to trade uranium for ready-enriched fuel for a reactor. "They won’t prevail and by pursuing the passing of a new resolution they are discrediting themselves in public opinion," said Mr Salehi, who is also Iran’s vice-president. Plans for a fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme were circulated among all 15 members of the Security Council on Tuesday. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the five veto-wielding permanent members had agreed on a "strong" draft resolution.
The new draft was drawn up a day after Iran, Brazil and Turkey signed a deal in which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for enriched fuel for a research reactor. A similar deal was suggested last year by the five permanent members of the Security Council – the US, France, UK, China and Russia – plus Germany, who have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme. They believe that Iran is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies. Placing Iran’s nuclear material in a third country was intended to act as a confidence-building measure by the major world powers to prevent Iran producing more highly enriched, weapons-grade material.