Because of Russian and Chinese demands, the text is weaker than earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold further discussions before it considers sanctions.
The draft passed by a vote of 14-1. Qatar, the only Arab nation on the council, cast the lone dissenting vote. Drafted by Britain, France and Germany with US backing, the resolution is a follow-up to a July 12 agreement - by the foreign ministers of those four countries, plus Russia and China - to refer Tehran to the Security Council for not responding to incentives offered in June to suspend enrichment.
The ministers asked that council members adopt a resolution making Iran's suspension of enrichment activities mandatory. The resolution includes that demand and calls on all states "To exercise vigilance" in preventing the transfer of all goods that could be used for Iran's enrichment and ballistic missile programs.
Iranian UN Ambassador Javad Zarif rejected the Security Council’s demand, saying the action was without legal basis.
"Iran's peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security and therefore dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility," Zarif told the council.
John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations who has been pushing for a strong stand on the Iranian nuclear program, claimed victory in the resolution adopted after weeks of negotiations.
"This is the first Security Council resolution on Iran in response to its nuclear weapons program, reflecting the gravity of this situation and the determination of the council," he said Monday.
"We hope this resolution will demonstrate to Iran that the best way to end its international isolation is to simply give up the pursuit of nuclear weapons."
Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said "The United Kingdom is deeply disappointed that Iran has given no indication that it is ready to engage seriously on our proposals nor taken the steps needed to allow negotiations to begin,"
'We see no harm in waiting for a few days'
Qatar's UN Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser said that while the demands of the six nations were legitimate, the resolution will only exacerbate tensions in the region and Iran should be given more time to respond. Tehran said last week it would reply Aug. 22 to the Western incentive package, but the council decided to go ahead with a resolution and not wait for Iran's response.
"We do not agree with the tabling of this resolution at a time when our region is in flames," Al-Nasser said.
"We see no harm in waiting for a few days to exhaust all possible means and in order to identify the real intentions of Iran."
Last Friday, Iran called again for international negotiations on its nuclear ambitions and said it was considering the incentives. Western nations have dismissed the idea of such talks without a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment.
The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to produce highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains its nuclear program is purely peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.
The resolution would call on the UN nuclear agency, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, to report back by Aug. 31 on Iran's compliance with the resolution's demands.
If Iran does not comply, the council would then move to adopt political and economic sanctions, the resolution said.
Diplomats said the threats spelled out in the resolution would be revoked if Iran agrees to the package of incentives.