Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Can UN's latest Iran sanctions be a game-changer?

This new round of Iran sanctions, approved Wednesday by the UN Security Council, won't on its own stop Iran's nuclear program, say most analysts. But it will raise the cost Tehran pays, both diplomatic and financial, for its nuclear pursuits.

By Staff writer / June 9, 2010

The members of the U.N. Security Council vote on sanctions against Iran during a session on Wednesday. The sanctions would ban Iran from pursuing 'any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons,' bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining and prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles.

Richard Drew/AP

Enlarge

Washington

President Obama wasted no time in hailing Wednesday’s passage by the UN Security Council of a resolution targeting Iran’s nuclear program as “the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government."

Skip to next paragraph

While that may be true, almost no one believes that the new resolution – any more than three before it targeting Iran – will on its own stop Iran’s nuclear program.

What the resolution does, some nuclear and Iran experts say, is increase the cost Iran pays – both diplomatic and financial – for pursuing a nuclear program that much of the world community (including crucial Iranian commercial partners Russia and China) has deemed to be in violation of international requirements and a threat to international security.

And that, in turn, may eventually affect the path Iran takes with its nuclear ambitions.

“Is this going to change Iran’s behavior? In the short term, no,” says Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington. “But what the resolution has the potential to do, especially given the Russian and Chinese votes [in favor], is change the calculations in Tehran over the value of pursuing their nuclear program in the manner they’ve chosen,” he adds. “To start with, it’s going to become more difficult [for Iran] to get the parts and materials it needs to continue advancing.”

In his statement on the resolution’s passage, Mr. Obama said the measure “sends an unmistakable message about the international community’s commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons."

But beyond whatever message-sending it accomplishes, the resolution is expected to serve as a kind of springboard from which countries – such as the United States, or members of the European Union – can advance other, more biting measures against the regime in Tehran.

Within hours of the resolution’s passage, members of Congress were lining up to tout the Security Council’s action as the catalyst for proceeding to final approval of Iran sanctions legislation that has passed both houses of Congress.

US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) of New Hampshire called on the Senate to “move quickly on its own set of sanctions on Iran” and urged “our partners in Europe and around the world to do the same.”

European Union members are scheduled to meet June 20 to consider additional sanctions on Iran.

In his own statement, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut called the UN resolution “a valuable stepping stone” to the “stronger sanctions” needed to increase pressure on the Iranian government. “Precisely because the UN sanctions are not strong enough to convince Iran's leaders to change course,” he added, “it is imperative that we in Congress put in place legislation that is as strong as possible, including mandatory sanctions that target both Iran's energy sector and its financial sector.”

Permissions