UNITED NATIONS – Iran will likely escape new United Nations sanctions, though the UN Security Council could issue a public reprimand for recent launches of what Western officials described as ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, diplomats said.
Council diplomats said the case for sanctions was weak, hinging on interpretation of ambiguous language in a resolution adopted by the 15-member body last July, part of an historic deal to curb Iran’s nuclear work.
International sanctions on Tehran were lifted in January under the nuclear deal brokered by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. Diplomats said all six countries agreed the ballistic missile tests do not violate the core agreement.
However, the Security Council resolution “calls upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from activity, including launches, related to ballistic missiles designed with the capability of delivering nuclear weapons.
Key powers agree that request is not legally binding and cannot be enforced under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which deals with sanctions and authorization of military force. But Western nations, which view the language as a ban, say there is a political obligation on Iran to comply.