World

Iran nuclear deal: UN Security Council approves agreement

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously endorsed the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Resolution authorizes a series of measures leading to the end of UN economic sanctions

China's United Nations Ambassador Liu Jieyi, left, and French Ambassador Francois Delattre vote in favour of a Security Council resolution approving Iran's nuclear deal at United Nations headquarters on Monday. (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously endorsed the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers and authorized a series of measures leading to the end of UN sanctions that have hurt Iran's economy.

But the measure also provides a mechanism for UN sanctions to "snap back" in place if Iran fails to meet its obligations.

Both U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and Iran's UN Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo called the agreement an important achievement for diplomacy, the Iranian promising to be "resolute in fulfilling its obligations" and the American pledging to be vigilant in ensuring they are carried out.

The resolution had been agreed to by the five veto-wielding council members, who along with Germany negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran. It was co-sponsored by all 15 members of the Security Council. The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who facilitated the nuclear talks, said in a statement that EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels would endorse the deal later Monday.

Under the agreement, Iran's nuclear program will be curbed for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of relief from international sanctions. Many key penalties on the Iranian economy, such as those related to the energy and financial sectors, could be lifted by the end of the year.

Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy and medical isotopes, but the United States and its Western allies believe Tehran's real goal is to build atomic weapons. U.S. President Barack Obama has stressed that all of Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon are cut off for the duration of the agreement and Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and get rid of 98 per cent of its stockpile of uranium.

Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said "the world is now a safer place in the knowledge that Iran cannot now build a nuclear bomb." But Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told reporters immediately after the vote that the Security Council had "awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world," calling it "a very sad day" not only for Israel but the entire world.

The document specifies that seven resolutions related to UN sanctions will be terminated when Iran has completed a series of major steps to curb its nuclear program and the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded that "all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities."

All provisions of the UN resolution will terminate in 10 years, including the "snap back" provision on sanctions.

But last week the six major powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — and the European Union sent a letter, seen by The Associated Press, informing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that they have agreed to extend the snap back mechanism for an additional five years. They asked Ban to send the letter to the Security Council.

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