Govt: SA not influenced in Iran-sanctions vote

South Africa was not swayed by any major power to vote in favour of a new United Nations Security Council resolution imposing further sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

The resolution—authorising a third round of sanctions targeting individuals, companies and equipment that could be used in Iran’s nuclear programme—was approved on Monday by a vote of 14-0, with Indonesia abstaining.

Britain and France, who co-sponsored the resolution, last week initially, put off the vote to try to get four non-permanent council members that raised concerns, including South Africa, to support it.

“South Africa did manage to make interventions in the resolution and we introduced amendments which helped to address some of the concerns we had,” Foreign Affairs chief director-United Nations Xolisa Mabhongo said.

This included that once the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme could be established, it should be treated as any other member of the non-proliferation treaty.

South Africa also wanted the resolution to acknowledge an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report stating that some progress had been made in Iranian cooperation with the nuclear watchdog.

Diplomats credited French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited South Africa last week, for helping to sway the country.

Mabhongo, however, denied that there was any pressure on the country to vote in favour of a resolution it was initially very sceptical about.

“Of course there are always discussions between Security Council members on different levels; these are very important issues. There are discussions at the level of ambassadors, discussions at the level of ministers [and] discussions at the level of heads of state,” he said.

But he said ultimately the decision was South Africa’s to make.

South Africa’s vote in favour of fresh sanctions against Iran comes only days after the country’s representative to the IAEA, Abdul Samad Minty, expressed concern about further sanctions against the country.

He said that in order to get Iran to sign the additional protocols—which would provide insight into the country’s uranium programme—it was important not to “risk any rupture in the relationship between the IAEA and Iran”.

Said Minty: “It is important to look at Iran’s assurance, because they need to diffuse confrontation and move towards a peaceful resolution. We don’t need war over Iran.”—Sapa

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