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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Iran Standoff Deepens

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: March 26, 2007
Prepared by: CFR.org Staff

The tone of confrontation between Iran and predominantly Western states has intensified with the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions. The Council unanimously imposed a ban on all Iranian arms exports, as well as asset freezes of twenty-eight officials and entities. Though the measures were still more moderate than those proposed by Washington, they continue to ratchet up pressure on Iranian officials to suspend their uranium-enrichment program. As with previous warnings and measures, Iran met this one with defiance. The government plans to suspend (al-Jazeera) adherence to the codes requiring countries to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear agency, of decisions related to its nuclear program. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reasserted claims that the UN move was illegal. He railed against “spiteful and vicious movements of certain powers” against Iran. Adding to tensions was the Iranian seizure (FT) on March 23 of fifteen British military personnel charged with illegally entering Iranian waters.

The UN move was occurring on a parallel track with informal U.S.-led efforts to tighten economic screws on Iran. More than forty financial institutions have curtailed business with Iranian entities since the U.S. campaign began last fall, the Washington Post reports. Matthew Levitt, an expert on terrorism financing at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says in a new CFR.org Podcast that Iran is already feeling a financial squeeze and that the United States should consider applying further pressure against Iranian banks. As CFR Director of Studies Gary Samore said in a recent speech before the International Institute for Strategic Studies, since the first resolution's passage, “the balance has begun to shift,” given Moscow and Beijing's support for graduated punitive measures.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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