UN Security Council slaps fourth package of anti-Iran sanctions

12 countries approved sanctions while Lebanon abstained, Turkey and Brazil opposed

Obama: sanctions do not close door for dialogue, resolution sends clear message

Iran rejects resolution, to continue enrichment amidst Congress vows to impose more sanctions

Putin says sanctions diplomacy ineffective

World powers have slapped new military and financial sanctions on Iran aiming to rein in its suspect nuclear program, but stressed that the door remains open for talks.

A US-drafted resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 12 votes in favor in the 15-member Security Council, with Lebanon abstaining and Brazil and Turkey voting against.

Though swiftly hailed by co-sponsors Britain, France and the United States, the move drew an immediate, scornful reaction from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"These resolutions are not worth a dime for the Iranian nation," said Ahmadinejad, who earlier threatened to suspend negotiations with six major powers if the sanctions were imposed.

He compared the world powers' resolutions to "a used hanky which should be thrown in the dust bin."

U.S. President Barack Obama said Iran now faces the "toughest-ever" sanctions regime, sending "an unmistakable message about the international community's commitment to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons."

But Obama, who has offered to resume dialogue with Tehran, stressed the sanctions did not spell an end to diplomatic overtures, urging Iran to "take a different and better path."

The Iranian president was due in China for a visit likely marred by unusually strong criticism of Beijing by Iran’s atomic chief for the Asian giant's support of the measure.

Despite the backing of Russia and China, it was one of the least supported of the four Iran sanctions resolutions adopted at the United Nations. It expands an arms embargo and bars the country from sensitive activities such as uranium mining.

The resolution also authorizes states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items for Iran and adds 40 entities to a list of people and groups subject to travel restrictions and financial sanctions.

Tehran maintains its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful civilian purposes, while the Western nations have charged that Iran is covertly seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Israel welcomed the new sanctions against the Jewish state's arch-foe, but said more was needed to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons, including "strong action" from individual countries.

The foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany stressed that their dual-track approach -- pressure through sanctions alongside negotiations -- remained in effect.

Western powers had initially pushed for crippling sanctions that would have notably targeted Iran's oil industry but months of hard-nosed bargaining with Beijing and Moscow watered down the resolution to protect their substantial energy and economic interests in Iran.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said the resolution aimed to coax Iran back to the negotiating table and to fulfill its obligations as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Sanctions can never fundamentally resolve," he said, stressing the measures could be suspended or even lifted if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment and reprocessing.

Russia said a package of economic and energy incentives offered by six major powers to Iran in exchange for halting uranium enrichment remained on the table.

The sanctions "should not do undue damage" to the Iranian economy and the Iranian people, stressed Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin.

Japan said it supported the fresh sanctions but still hoped for a diplomatic solution.

"It becomes important that the international community firmly implements the UN Security Council resolution and works towards a peaceful and diplomatic solution for the nuclear issue and demands Iran make a prudent decision," Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said in a statement.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton's office said the resolution "keeps the door open for continued engagement" between world powers and Iran.

"Sanctions are not the endgame or the final solution," the EU statement said. "We hope that the decision will bring Iran to the negotiating table."

The resolution was approved despite efforts by Brazil and Turkey to head off the measures and promote a nuclear fuel swap deal they reached with Tehran last month, which had been coolly received by the six major powers.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva later slammed the new sanctions as a "Pyrrhic victory" that comes with a massive burden to the victors and said the move "weakened the UN Security Council."

Lebanon had earlier indicated it could not support the resolution due to domestic political considerations, a reference to the presence of the powerful, Iranian-backed Hezbollah in the Lebanese government.

Iran remained defiant on Thursday in rejecting UN sanctions over its uranium enrichment and said it could review ties with the UN atomic body, as world powers stressed the door was still open for dialogue.

"These resolutions are not worth a dime for the Iranian nation," said Ahmadinejad, who had earlier threatened to suspend negotiations with six major powers if the sanctions were imposed.

Speaking in the Tajik capital Dushanbe minutes after the UN vote, he said he had told world powers "that the resolutions you issue are like a used hanky which should be thrown in the dust bin."

On Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told state news agency IRNA that the new resolution "will not dissuade the Islamic Republic of Iran from pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”

The visibly angry Iranians further expressed defiance by warning Tehran could reduce its ties with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The majlis (parliament)... will adopt on Sunday a top priority bill which talks of decreasing ties with the IAEA," Esmaeel Kosari, a member of its committee on national security and foreign policy, told Fars news agency.

Iranian newspapers, both hard-line and reformist, also unanimously denounced the sanctions.

The hard-line Kayhan daily ran a front-page lead headline: "Wait for Iran's decisive response to illegal sanctions." The reformist daily Aftab e-Yazd said: "Now that the West, along with Russia and China, has adopted the path of confrontation, Iran's response will be strong."

World powers maintained their dual-track approach of pressure through sanctions alongside negotiations.

Obama said the measures were the "toughest-ever" against Iran but "do not close the door on diplomacy."

"Iran continues to have the opportunity to take a different and better path," he said.

The sanctions resolution expands an arms embargo, which Russia said would force it to freeze a contract to deliver S-300 air defense missiles. Previous delays had already been a source of friction between Tehran and Moscow.

Israel and the United States, neither of which has ruled out military action to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, had both strongly opposed the deal for fear that the missiles would make strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities much more difficult.

The sanctions also bar Iran from sensitive activities such as uranium mining, and authorize states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items for Iran.

Diplomats said the sanctions, which could soon be augmented by additional measures from individual powers, were a blow to Iran.

"More unilateral sanctions from the US and the EU are expected soon, which would significantly damage the economy," one diplomat told AFP in Tehran.

And in Berlin, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the European Union should consider "further measures" against Iran.

But Russia, seeking to cool frayed tempers, warned against unilateral action, saying that would be "unacceptable" for Moscow.

Online energy sector magazine BEDigest said "since the sanctions do not target Tehran's energy or trade sectors directly, the current situation of trade and financial transactions with Iran will go on."

Despite Ahmadinejad's vitriolic, some top Iranian officials appeared to be cautious, indicating Tehran's dilemma.

"It is too early to know which path the Iranian leaders will choose," another diplomat in Tehran said, adding that the Islamic republic had been "snubbed diplomatically."

Iran atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi had said just before the vote that Iran could talk with some world powers over the nuclear fuel deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey.

But after the vote he hit out at China, where he began a visit on Thursday. He said it was "losing its respectable position in the Islamic world and by the time it wakes up, it will be too late."

On Thursday, China attempted to cool tempers, saying it "highly values relations with Iran and feels they are conducive to regional peace, stability and development."