Following the IAEA’s February 2008 report noting progress with Iran over the nuclear issue, the E3+3 repackaged the June 2006 proposal for comprehensive negotiations, emphasizing the benefits to Iran of a long-term agreement on its nuclear program (transmitted 14 June 2008 to Iran). The Council encouraged resolution of all outstanding issues with the IAEA and adopted UNSCR 1803 (3 March 2008) imposing a travel ban, expanding the list of prohibited proliferation-sensitive materials, and adding 25 names to the list of targeted individuals and entities. Security Council support of the sanctions, however, was somewhat weakened with the abstention of Indonesia and reservations of South Africa and others that progress had not been adequately reflected and that the IAEA was the appropriate forum to address the issues, not the UNSC. With no monitoring mechanism in place, there was little UN focus on implementation and enforcement, but the US continued to ratchet up pressure with its effort to encourage other countries to adopt financial sanctions on Iran.
On 21 September 2009, Iran disclosed to the IAEA the existence of an underground uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom, after the site became known to Western intelligence services. Iran argued its disclosure was consistent with its IAEA legal obligations, but the IAEA maintained it was required to declare the facility as soon as Iran made the decision to build it. The revelation deepened suspicion surrounding Iran's nuclear ambitions and resulted in unsuccessful E3+3 talks in Geneva in October 2009.
On 9 February 2010, Iran announced that it would produce uranium enriched to up to 20% for a medical research reactor, and two days later President Ahmadinejad declared that Iran was a "nuclear state." IAEA officials confirmed it enriched uranium "up to 19.8%” and released a report the same month detailing Iran's potential for producing a nuclear weapon, including further fuel enrichment and plans for developing a missile-ready warhead.
In an effort to break the impasse, Brazil and Turkey initiated negotiations with Iran to send low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for enriched fuel for a research reactor, resulting in the “Tehran declaration of 17 May 2010.” The P5 dismissed the Iranian response as too little too late.
Coerce Iran to suspend its nuclear activities and comply with IAEA requirements.
Constrain Iran’s access to sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programs.
Signal support for non-proliferation norms, specifically NPT and the role of the IAEA in monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.
Sanctions Committee in place, no sanctions monitoring mechanism. Designation criteria were specified and targets designated (maximum number of designees during the episode: travel ban - 5 individual designees; asset freeze - 40 individual designees, 35 entities). Enforcement authorities specified.
Iran remained engaged with the IAEA, but no substantial concessions were made.
Sanctions and diplomatic pressure reinforced IAEA negotiations with Iran.
Indications of increasing difficulties by Iranian traders in obtaining financing.
US unilateral measures and strong pressure on other countries to adopt financial sanctions, as well as EU pressure, appeared most significant.
Norm against proliferation was articulated in the UNSCR, but the signal was weakened slightly by the reservations over the imposition of additional sanctions after progress in the negotiations.
Because initial progress in negotiations was followed by a “rush to sanctions,” the legitimacy of the UNSC role in reinforcing the norm (by imposing sanctions) was weakened; IAEA negotiations were also underway.
Insufficient information available at present.