By: Mariana del Rio Kostenwein
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate
The UN Security Council’s five permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus one, Germany, met in New York on January 16th, 2010 to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. It is contended that Iran is secretly building such weapons, but Iran insists that the goal of its nuclear program is to generate an alternate source of energy for its people in order to avoid relying on oil, which it prefers to export to other countries.
Sanctions on Iran are not a new tactic. The first US sanctions banning most US-Iran trade and froze assets, were imposed following the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. In 1995, U.S. President, Bill Clinton, prohibited American companies from investing in the Iranian oil and gas industry, and Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), which imposed sanctions on foreign firms investing $20 million or more in Iran’s energy sector. In 2007, the U.S. imposed sanctions on several Iranian banks. The EU has imposed visa restrictions on high-ranking Iranian officials and the EU and UK have frozen Iranian assets. The UN Security Council has issued three resolutions concerning Iran; these resolutions imposed trade sanctions, froze assets, created travel restrictions, and called for Iran to end uranium enrichment. Iran has ignored all UN resolutions. Iran began its nuclear program in the 1960s, discontinued it in 1979, and revived in the 1990s.
In a meeting last fall in Geneva, Iran agreed it would open a uranium enrichment plant for inspection and send most of its enriched uranium abroad to be converted into fuel by the end of 2009. Iran did not comply with the deadline.
Some are calling for military action against Iran, but opponents of military action argue this would only interrupt Iran’s nuclear program. Western nations are now moving for stricter sanctions, but China and Russia insist on further negotiations. The January 16 meeting in New York was considered “inconclusive” according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, but he did comment that the discussions focused on further sanction