UN council split on Iran missile tests
Updated: 2013-07-17 07:37
(Agencies in United Nations and Beijing)
A United Nations Security Council committee is split over whether Iran's missile tests last year violated UN sanctions imposed on Teheran because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Australia's UN envoy said on Monday.
That division effectively rules out any expansion of sanctions against Teheran over the tests for the time being, UN envoys said on condition of anonymity.
Diplomats said it was Russia, backed by China, that refused to declare Teheran's missile launches a violation of the UN restrictions, as a UN Panel of Experts on Iran said was the case, Reuters reported.
A Russian delegate explained Moscow's position to the Security Council, saying "hasty conclusions not based on facts must be avoided".
A Chinese delegate reiterated Beijing's stance: "We are not in favor of additional pressure or new sanctions against Iran."
Analysts said new sanctions would be ineffective in resolving Iran's nuclear issue, especially during a time when the country has shown a willingness to cooperate with the international community.
Li Guofu, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said, "It is not appropriate to impose new sanctions on Teheran since there is no evidence that the country is developing nuclear weapons".
He said there will be a new opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue because Iran's president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, who will take office next month, has said that Iran will be more transparent and cooperative.
"Sanctions at such a time will not be helpful in promoting Iran's cooperation with the international community," Li said.
Iran rejects allegations by the United States and its European allies that it is developing atomic weapons capability. It says the UN sanctions against it are illegal and refuses to comply with them.
As long as the sanctions committee remains divided, it will be difficult for the Security Council to add names of any Iranian individuals or entities linked to the missile tests, Security Council diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
US Ambassador to the UN Rosemary DiCarlo told reporters, "We're disappointed that the (Iran sanctions) committee was unable in this case to state the obvious".
"There is nothing ambiguous about the ban imposed by the Security Council on such ... missile launches," she said. "Most of the Security Council members agree with us on this issue."
Australia's UN Ambassador Gary Quinlan, chairman of the Iran sanctions committee, told the council that "a number of committee members expressed the view ... that the launches constituted a clear violation of (UN sanctions) and that therefore all member states should redouble their efforts to implement ballistic missile-related sanctions on Iran".
"At this stage some committee members cannot share this view," he added in his latest three-month report to the council.
The tests involved the launch of Iranian Shahab missiles in July 2012 during the "Great Prophet 7" military exercises.
"These included launches of the Shahab 1 and 3, Zelzal, Fateh-110 and Tondar missiles, as well as an anti-ship ballistic missile, the Khalij Fars," the Iran Panel of Experts said in its May report to the Iran sanctions committee.
The panel said those exercises were conducted by the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.