UNITED NATIONS - The United States and its allies scored a long-sought victory yesterday by pushing through new UN sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, punishments Tehran dismissed as "annoying flies, like a used tissue."
The sanctions target Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, ballistic missiles and nuclear-related investments. Oil exports, the lifeblood of Iran's economy, are not affected because targeting them would have cost the United States essential support from Russia and China.
President Barack Obama said the sanctions are the toughest Iran has ever faced. They required several months of difficult negotiations by the five veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council members - the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France - and nonmember Germany. This is the fourth round of sanctions aimed at getting Iran into serious discussions on its nuclear ambitions.
"Actions do have consequences, and today the Iranian government will face some of those consequences," Obama said. He left the door open to diplomacy but said Iran "will find itself more isolated, less prosperous and less secure" unless it meets its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the new resolution.
"From right and from left, they adopt sanctions, but for us they are annoying flies, like a used tissue," he said.
Tehran insists its program is peaceful and aimed at producing nuclear energy. The United States and its allies say Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons.
The new resolution bans Iran from pursuing "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons," bars Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibits Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters and missiles. Iran, however, already has most of what it would need to make a weapon.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, warned that "choosing the option of confrontation will bring Iran's resolute response," according to Iran's official news agency. He did not elaborate.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 12-2 with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting "no."