U.N. Moves to Lift Sanctions on Iran After Nuclear Deal – Jodi Rudoren/The New York Times
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution that creates the basis for international economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted, a move that incited a furious reaction in Israel and potentially sets up an angry showdown in Congress.
The 15-0 vote for approval of the resolution — 104 pages long including annexes and lists — was written in Vienna by diplomats who negotiated a landmark pact last week that limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for ending the sanctions.
Iran has pledged to let in international monitors to inspect its facilities for the next 10 years and other measures that were devised to guarantee that its nuclear energy activities are purely peaceful.
The Security Council resolution, which is legally binding, lays out the steps required only for the lifting of United Nations sanctions.
It has no legal consequence on the sanctions imposed separately by the United States and the European Union.
The European Union also approved the Iran nuclear deal on Monday, putting in motion the lifting of its own sanctions, which include prohibitions on the purchase of Iranian oil. Europe will continue to prohibit the export of ballistic missile technology and sanctions related to human rights.
Diplomats have warned that if the United States Congress refuses to lift American penalties against Iran, the Iranians may renege on their commitments as well, which could result in a collapse of the entire deal.
The resolution takes effect in 90 days, a time frame negotiated in Vienna to allow Congress, where members have expressed strong distrust of the agreement, to review it. President Obama, who has staked much of his foreign policy ambitions on the Iran pact, has vowed to veto a congressional rejection of the nuclear accord.
The resolution will not completely lift all Council restrictions on Iran. It maintains an arms embargo, and sets up a panel to review the import of sensitive technology on a case-by-case basis.
It also sets up a way to renew sanctions if Iran does not abide by its commitments. In the event of an unresolved dispute over Iran’s enrichment activities, the United Nations sanctions snap back automatically after 30 days. To avoid the sanctions renewal requires a vote of the Council — giving skeptics, namely the United States, an opportunity to veto it.
Mr. Obama’s critics in Congress, including at least two senior Democrats, objected to the Council vote’s taking place before Congress has had a chance to debate it.
The United States ambassador, Samantha Power, speaking immediately after the vote, told the Council that sanctions relief would start only when Iran “verifiably” meets its obligations under the deal.
“We have a responsibility to test diplomacy,” she said.
In an effort to assuage critics, including Israel, Ms. Power went on to say that the United States would continue to scrutinize the “instability that Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program.”
She also called on Iran “to immediately release all unjustly detained Americans,” referring to three Americans of Iranian descent who have been incarcerated in Iran — Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian — as well as a fourth American, Robert A. Levinson, who has been missing in that country for eight years.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, struck a defiant tone in the council’s chambers after the vote, asserting that the sanctions had been “unjustifiably” imposed and lashing out against what he called “Iranophobia.”
He took aim at the American ambassador’s suggestion that Iran destabilizes the region, and retorted that it was the “feckless and reckless action” of the United States that had sowed crises in the Middle East.
The Israeli government, which considers Iran one of its most dangerous enemies and has expressed strong opposition to the nuclear accord, quickly denounced the Council resolution.
“The hypocrisy knows no bounds,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said of the vote. He asserted that Iran had “systematically” violated prior Council resolutions and “calls for the destruction of Israel.”
“The best way to fight this hypocrisy is to tell the truth in a strong and unified manner,” Mr. Netanyahu told Israel’s parliament, according to a translation provided by his office.
“They say that this agreement makes war more distant,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “This is not true; this agreement brings war closer.”
The ambassadors from France and Russia both described the resolution as historic, but used their Council pulpit to emphasize their own positions. The French ambassador, François Delattre, said the pact must be carefully monitored. “We will judge by its actions Iran’s willingness to make this agreement a success,” he said.
The Russian envoy, Vitaly I. Churkin, indirectly nudged the United States to do its part. “We expect all countries will quickly adopt to the new conditions,” he said.