Los Angeles Times
Security Council backs Iran accord
The 15- 0 vote paves the way for the phasing out of U. N. sanctions resolutions.
NEW YORK — The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously endorsed a deal aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, a plan the U. S. representative said would make the world “safer and more secure.”
The15- 0 vote on the resolution was swift, coming just a couple of minutes after the members convened in the meeting hall. The resolution sets the stage for the phasing out of several U. N. sanctions resolutions passed since 2006, which have included the freezing of assets and an arms embargo.
Some members of Congress had urged the United Nations to wait until U. S. lawmakers had considered the accord. A congressional vote is not expected until September, too long for Security Council members who have spent years trying to work out a deal to end the rancor over Iran’s nuclear program.
The U. S. ambassador to the U. N., Samantha Power, said the deal would not eliminate all of the United States’ concerns about Iran. She specifically mentioned the detention of three U. S. citizens in Iran: journalist Jason Rezaian, former U. S. Marine Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini. Power also noted a fourth American, former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in the region in 2007.
“If implemented, itwould make the world safer and more secure” by preventing Iran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon, she said. “This deal gives Iran an opportunity to prove to the world that it intends to pursue a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes.”
In addition to the five permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, Russia, the United States and France — Germany was part of the diplomatic bloc that worked on the accord.
The 109- page agreement would block Iran from building a nuclear bomb for more than a decade and give U. N. nuclear inspectors broad powers to keep an eye on Iran’s activities.
The plan, announced Tuesday, would suspend sanctions against Iran and enable it to resume selling oil, rejoin the international financial systemand get access to about $ 100 billion in frozen assets once the International Atomic Energy Agency verified its compliance with restrictions on its nuclear development.
Supporters of the deal say it would allow sanctions to be reinstated if Iran violated terms of the agreement.
Critics, notably Israel and some American lawmakers, say it will empower Iran financially and militarily, adding to the Middle East’s volatility.
As speaker after speaker applauded the council’s endorsement, Iran’s U. N. representative delivered a grudging acceptance of the resolution, describing his country’s nuclear program as peaceful.
Referring to the sanctions, Gholam Ali Khoshroo said, “They are grounded on nothing but baseless speculation and hearsay.”
“Iran is a stable country in an unstable region,” said Khoshroo, adding that problems in the region were rooted not in Iranian actions but in “feckless and reckless acts by the United States.”
But he said the nuclear deal had restored Iran’s faith in diplomacy to resolve problems, even as he described the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program as “an unnecessary crisis.”
“We honestly hope it helps turn the page in our region,” Khoshroo said.
But underscoring the divisions that remain, the U. N. representative from Israel, Ron Prosor, denounced the vote in a statement after the meeting.
“Today, you have awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world,” he said, calling the deal “dangerous to the region, to the people of the region.”
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue opposing the accord, telling the Knesset, or parliament, that it “brings war closer” because the money Iran gains from the easing of sanctions will be directed toward financing terrorism and aggression. The accord will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, he warned.