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Security Council approves new sanctions on Iran

Story Highlights

NEW: Iranian foreign minister rejects council's authority
NEW: "Iran's nuclear program is completely peaceful," he says
NEW: Goal is to get Iran back to table, China's envoy says
• Resolution imposes limits on bank loans to Iran, weapon sales
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iran's foreign minister rejected a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to impose new sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Speaking to the 15-member council in measured tones after the vote, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, "Iran presents no threat to international peace and security and therefore falls outside the council's charter mandate."

Western nations, including the United States, contend Iran is using the uranium program to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran says the technology will only be for civilian use. (Watch both sides make their case before the Security Council Video)

"As we have stressed time and again, Iran's nuclear program is completely peaceful," Mottaki said.

Despite his denial that the Security Council has any power over Iran, Mottaki offered hope that the impasse can be resolved.

"We have expressed our readiness to take unprecedented steps and offered several proposals to allay possible concern in this regard," he said.

Expressing the divide between Iran and the U.N. demand, the acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, said:

"While we hope that Iran complies with this resolution ... the United States is fully prepared to take additional measures in 60 days should Iran choose another course."

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said China supports Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear energy program, but fully backed the resolution.

"We support the Security Council in taking further and appropriate actions to urge the Iranian side to suspend enrichment-related activities, in order to bring the process back to the negotiation track," Wang said.

The new measures follow a resolution adopted December 23 that prohibited trade with Iran in nuclear materials and ballistic missiles. It also froze assets of individuals and institutions involved in Tehran's atomic programs.

The new embargo on Iranian weapons exports -- such as small arms and explosives -- is an attempt to put the squeeze on supplies to militants in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq.

Nations and international banks are barred from making any new loans to Iran. The new penalties build on previous sanctions barring transfer of nuclear materials and know-how.

The latest sanctions, formulated last week by the five permanent members of the council -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France -- plus Germany, freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of those are linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps.

The resolution also calls for a voluntary travel embargo on Iranian officials and Revolutionary Guard commanders.

Several council members spoke before the vote, stressing that they prefer to resolve the issue of nuclear development through negotiation.

"This resolution is about the need to build international confidence in Iran's nuclear program," said Rezlan Ishar Jenie, Indonesia's U.N. ambassador.

The British ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, who chaired the six-nation group, said after the vote, "The path of proliferation by Iran is not one that the international community can accept.

"We want Iran to make the right choice: cooperation with the international community, which requires the removal of any doubt that Iran could develop nuclear weapons," Jones Parry said.

"The resolve of the Security Council is clear -- Iran must make its choice."

In other comments, Wolff said, "The United States is pleased that the Security Council has once again unanimously taken action against what is clearly a great threat to international peace and security."

Iran's continued "defiance" requires that the council take such action, he added.

Speaking for the White House, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told CNN:

"Once again, the United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously -- a vote with the support of not just the permanent members, but also Islamic and nonaligned countries -- to send a strong message to Iran's leaders: Stop isolating your country and your people, suspend your program and come to the table.

"The international community is united: It's time for Iran to comply or potentially face harsher measures in the future."

French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said, "Nobody in this council wishes to deny Iran its rights, or to prevent the Iranian people from benefiting from nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

"All states party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty have the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy" as long as they meet the Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

"It is unacceptable that the Iranian authorities find pretext to shirk from their commitments" under that treaty, de la Sabliere said.

The 10 nonpermanent council members are Belgium, Italy, Qatar, Congo, Panama, Slovakia, Ghana, Peru, South Africa and Indonesia.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki rejected the Security Council's vote to impose sanctions on Iran.

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