Israeli officials yesterday voiced very muted satisfaction over the UN Security Council's decision to impose another round of sanctions on Iran.
Jerusalem had hoped that the approved sanctions would be much tougher, doing real damage to Iran's energy and banking sectors. Now its hope is that the council's decision will lead the European Union and the United States to impose new and far more stringent sanctions of their own.
But while Israeli officials do not think the new sanctions will do anything to stop Iran's nuclear program, they nevertheless deemed it a positive step in that it constituted a high-level international statement against the idea of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
"The Security Council's decision is insufficient, and it must be accompanied by additional steps against Iran outside the Security Council," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Israel views the decision as an important step that again sharpens the demand that Iran obey the international community's demand that it suspend uranium enrichment, stop building the [nuclear] facility in Qom and cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation of the military dimensions of its nuclear program."
The ministry stressed that "full and immediate implementation of the resolution is very important. At the same time, we must be clear that the resolution on its own is insufficient. It must be accompanied by significant steps in other international frameworks, and at the national level. Only sanctions of this sort, focused on a range of Iranian industries, are likely to influence Iran's considerations. What is needed is wide-ranging, determined international action that will make the price of violating international demands clear to the Iranian regime. The ramifications of combining Iran's extremist ideology with nuclear weapons would be catastrophic."
As expected, 12 of the 15 council members voted for the new sanctions. Nevertheless, the vote contained a surprise: Instead of Lebanon voting no and Turkey and Brazil abstaining, as had been widely expected, Turkey and Brazil voted no while Lebanon abstained - even though its government includes members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization.
In a speech after the vote, U.S. President Barack Obama noted that Iran "has failed to comply fully with IAEA's requirements. Indeed, Iran is the only NPT signatory in the world - the only one - that cannot convince the IAEA that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes.
"That's why the international community was compelled to impose these serious consequences. These are the most comprehensive sanctions that the Iranian government has faced ... We know that the Iranian government will not change its behavior overnight, but today's vote demonstrates the growing costs that will come with Iranian intransigence."
Nevertheless, Obama stressed, "These sanctions do not close the door on diplomacy. Iran continues to have the opportunity to take a different and better path."
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