UN to pave way for lifting sanctions on Iran after nuclear deal

Martin Schaefer, press officer of the German Foreign Ministry holds a signed copy of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran's nuclear programme.
Martin Schaefer, press officer of the German Foreign Ministry holds a signed copy of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran's nuclear programme.PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council is due to adopt a resolution Monday that would clear a path for international sanctions crippling Iran's economy to be lifted.

The vote, set for 9am (11pm Singapore) is only a formality. The council's five permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany crafted the deal signed in Vienna last Tuesday as well as the draft UN resolution.

The text launches a progressive and conditional lifting of sanctions, in exchange for guarantees that the Islamic republic will not develop a nuclear bomb.

If passed, it would mark formal UN endorsement for the hard-won, groundbreaking agreement reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group after 18 straight days of talks that capped almost two years of momentous negotiations.

The resolution calls for the agreement's "full implementation on the timetable established," and urges UN member countries to facilitate the process.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, must "undertake the necessary verification and monitoring of Iran's nuclear commitments," the text says.

Those commitments include limiting the number of centrifuges for its fissile material. The resolution demands that Iran "cooperate fully" with the IAEA.

Deal faces US Congress hurdle

As soon as the council receives an IAEA report confirming that the nuclear program is now entirely pacific, certain provisions of the seven UN sanctions resolutions against Teheran will be terminated.

Those resolutions ban the trade of goods or services linked to Iranian nuclear activities, freeze the financial assets of designated Iranian officials and companies, and place an embargo on conventional weapons and ballistic missiles.

Those embargoes, however, will remain place - for five years for conventional weapons and for eight years for ballistic missiles.

After the 10 years during which the Vienna accord is valid, the UN will close its Iran file.

But if Teheran violates any of its engagements, the council can almost automatically relaunch its panoply of sanctions.

Only one of its five permanent members would need to use its veto powers to demand that the sanctions be re-established under a so-called "snapback" provision valid for the duration of the agreement.

But the major powers have already announced they plan to extend this provision by an additional five years, for a total of 15 years.

The United States and the European Union have also hit Iran with bilateral economic sanctions, especially in energy and finance, that are due to be lifted progressively and conditionally as well.

But the Vienna deal still has to clear another major hurdle: approval by the US Congress, whose Republican majority is hostile to the agreement ahead of a September vote.

The major powers are hoping Iran will now help in tamping down regional crises that the UN Security Council cannot halt as it struggles with deep divisions between Russia and Western powers.

But Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Saturday that Teheran was still sharply at odds with "arrogant" Washington's policy across the Middle East and would keep supporting its allies, such as the Syrian regime or Shiite rebels in Yemen.