The new UN sanctions imposed on Iran are the toughest Security Council measures against the country so far. They are intended to toughen the squeeze regarding its nuclear programme, and include the placing of new Iranian officials and organisations on an assets freeze list, the inclusion of 22 additional companies on a list of those involved in alleged ballistic of atomic activities and a requirement that UN members search Iranian cargo vessels in certain circumstances. Of the UN Security Council members, Turkey and Brazil voted against Resolution 1929. Lebanon abstained. The new measures have been met with open glee in Israel — the Middle East’s only nuclear armed state even though it does not openly concede this and has not been made to do so by the international community. In a more tempered response the US and its allies in the West have welcomed the move. The response from Iran and its president has been, as we would expect, defiant.
Of course, this is not to say that sometimes in the past President Ahmedinejad has said things which have raised eyebrows worldwide. But the point is that what will the sanctions achieve? Similar measures in the past have failed to move Tehran to inch its chair even a few centimetres nearer to the negotiating table. The stance taken by Brazil, whose representative spoke of far softer tactics and an ongoing process of dialogue aimed at coaxing it back into the mainstream, make sense. Iran is seen as posing a threat to the world because of its international isolation. If means could be found to persuade it to sit alongside other nations, much of the danger its nuclear weapons represent would recede. There is a warning here for the US. Iran is regarded as a heroic nation by many Muslims precisely because of the double standard Washington employs in its dealings with Israel.
Published in the Express Tribune, 11th, 2010.