UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747

UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 (12/23/06) and 1747 (3/24/07) imposed sanctions against Iran for failing to stop its uranium enrichment activities and missile programs following the requests of the IAEA and the UNSC Resolution 1696.


The term UN Resolutions 1737 and 1747 refers to UN Security Council resolution 1737 (12/23/06), imposing sanctions against Iran for failing to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and missile program, as required by the UN Security Council resolution 1696;1 and to Resolution 1747 (3/24/07), which intensified the sanctions against Iran in light of its non-compliance with resolution 1737.


In August 2002, Western intelligence sources revealed a uranium enrichment facility and a heavy-water production plant in Iran.2 As a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran violated its obligation to declare all its nuclear facilities and use of nuclear material. Having breached NPT regulations, Iran sought to increase international confidence in its peaceful intentions by allowing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). However, Iran's cooperation with IAEA was incomplete.3

Despite various year-long efforts of the IAEA, US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - both separately and as part of the EU-34 and the 'six world powers'5 - to reach an agreement with Iran to cease its uranium enrichment, Iran continued significant nuclear activity, including uranium enrichment.6

In light of Iran's refusal to cooperate, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1696, which ordered Iran to halt its nuclear activities by August 31, 2006, or face possible sanctions.7

When Iran failed to meet the imposed deadline, the 'six world powers' entered into negotiations on the UN Security Council's next steps.8 While US wanted to impose severe economic sanctions, prohibiting all trade relations with Iran, Russia and China refused to support such sanctions.9 Ultimately, a compromise version the UN Security Council Resolution 1737 was passed by unanimous vote (12/23/06).

Resolution 1737 set a deadline of 60 days for Iran to fulfill the resolution's requests, principally to halt its uranium enrichment. Having failed to meet the deadline, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1747 (3/24/07), which only intensified the previous resolution's sanctions.

Content of Resolutions

UN Security Council Resolution 1737 is based on the following rationale: While Iran has a right to develop, research and use nuclear energy; the Security Council wishes to preempt any attempt to develop nuclear military abilities. Therefore, it requests Iran's immediate suspension of proliferation sensitive nuclear activities, including all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and the work on all heavy water-related projects, as requested by the IAEA Board of Governors. 10

The following sanctions are imposed as a means to encourage Iran's compliance with the resolution:

  • All states shall take measures to prevent the supply of all items which could contribute to Iran's enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities.

  • Iran shall not export any arms and weapons,11 and all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran.

  • Freezing the funds, other financial assets and economic resources owned by the persons or entities12supporting the Iranian proliferation sensitive nuclear activities, which are on the Member States' territories.

UN Security Council Resolution 1747, based on the same rationale of Resolution 1737, exacerbates the pressure placed on Iran and imposes the following sanctions:

  • All States shall notify the Committee of the entry into or transit through their territories of the persons who support Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities.13

  • All states are called upon14 to restrain the supply of any armament material15 from their territories to Iran.

  • All states and international financial institutions are called upon not to enter into new commitments16 for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes.

The IAEA is in charge to report on whether Iran has suspended all the activities mentioned in resolution 1737, within 60 days of the date of resolution 1747. If Iran fails to comply, the Security Council is entitled to initiate an additional resolution, which will further strengthen the sanctions against Iran.

1 UN Council Resolution 1696 (7/31/06) mainly called for the suspension of Iranian uranium reprocessing and enrichment; Iranian compliance with requests of the IAEA Board of Governors; and the continuation of efforts to launch multilateral diplomatic initiatives, spearheaded by the European Union.

2 Ephraim Asculai, After the IAEA Resolution: Iran's road to nuclear weapons remains open, INSS, (2/8/06).

3 IAEA reports that "gaps remain in the Agency's knowledge that continue to be a matter of concern" Scott Peterson, CS Monitor, (5/9/06).

4 France, Britain and Germany.

5 US, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany.

6 Elaine Sciolino, NY Times, (6/8/06).

7 AFP, (7/31/06).

8 AFP, (9/8/06).

9 Both are major trading partners with Iran: Iran is a significant importer of Russia's weapons; industrial and technological material and know-how for oil refineries and nuclear power plants. China imports large amounts of crude oil from Iran and exports industrial goods as well as technological material, mainly for oil refineries. Moreover, Russia and China also use their veto-right in the UN Security Council in order to oppose and hinder US uni-polarism.

10 The IAEA Board of Governors requests are: full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities; the ratification and implementation of the Nuclear NPT Additional Protocol, which grants the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites.

11 All items are clearly defined and listed in the annex of the resolution.

12 The persons and entities mentioned above are listed in the annex of the resolution.

13 The persons concerned are listed in the Annex I of the resolution. Resolution 1747 has added more persons to the list of the previous resolution.

14 Paragraphs starting with the wording "calls upon" are not binding.

15 Battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems; provision to Iran of technical assistance, training, or financial assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture or use of such items are also meant in that paragraph.

16 It is important to note that this paragraph does not intend to freeze any currently existing financial commitments of member states to Iran.