U.N. Is Set to Vote on Iran Sanctions

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled on Wednesday to impose new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, taking aim at the financial might of the Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as Iran’s military and nuclear industries with the addition of 41 enterprises to the blacklist.

The main sanctions seek to impede the nuclear industry, impose an embargo on heavy weapons sales and push for ship inspections. But the major powers, at odds over how strong the sanctions should be, had been negotiating the list of companies and individuals to be singled out.

The official new blacklist, obtained by The New York Times in the prelude to the vote, comes after months of negotiations, largely between the Americans and the Chinese over how to expand the list already included in three previous resolutions.

Months of haggling continued until the last moment, with the Chinese insisting that nothing - either in the main body of the resolution or in the three annexes singling out names - harm Iran’s day-to-day economy, diplomats said. The number of entities listed is still roughly twice that on any previous resolution.

Despite the difficulties, 12 out of 15 nations appear committed to supporting the resolution.

“It is strong, it is broad based, and it will have a significant impact on Iran, which is why Iran has worked so hard to try to prevent its adoption,” Susan E. Rice, the United States envoy to the United Nations, said of the draft resolution scheduled for a vote on Wednesday. “Our aim remains to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program and negotiate constructively.”

Iran called the pending resolution proof that the West does not seek negotiation.

“These hasty measures are merely a deviation from the path of constructive transactions and are indicative of the fact that the other parties rather prefer confrontation,” Mohammad Khazaee, the Iranian envoy to the United Nations, said in a statement.

Skeptics noted that this would be the fourth round of sanctions the Security Council has imposed on Iran since 2006, and that none have succeeded in pushing Iran back into negotiations over accusations that it is defying the International Atomic Energy Agency and trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran denies it is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Despite the sanctions already in place, Iran is enriching uranium at ever-higher levels and building new centrifuges to create larger stockpiles.

“That makes it hard to reach the conclusion that we have the noose around their neck and we just need to pull it a little tighter to bring them to heel,” said Steven E. Miller, director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.

In the draft resolution, just one scientist was singled out for an asset freeze and travel ban: Javad Rahiqi, 56, the head of the Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center. The resolution also strengthens the travel ban against 40 officials already blacklisted.

Just one bank is listed: First East Export Bank, which has handled hefty transactions linked to Iran’s military establishment. The United States sought to include more banks, including the Central Bank, but settled for one reference in the introduction saying United Nations member states should “exercise vigilance” in dealing with the Central Bank. China and others argued that singling out banks would unfairly harm the economy.

The list names 23 industrial companies, many of them involved in military contracts or the nuclear industry. Skeptics of the sanctions note that is just a fraction of the Iranian economy, which has been booming.

In addition, 15 companies listed are linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The I.R.G.C., as it is commonly known, is increasingly the military power that runs Iran, and it led the repression against pro-democracy protesters.

The most prominent company, Khatam al-Anbiya Construction, has won billions of dollars in civil and military projects, including a secret nuclear enrichment facility near the holy city of Qum.

“We have never gone after the sprawling I.R.G.C. commercial enterprise in quite the same way,” said one United States official not authorized to comment publicly on the negotiations.

Source: New York Times