The third round of sanctions imposed Monday by the United Nations will not by itself force Iran to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. Iran continues to thwart the international community's efforts to monitor its nuclear program, even as it insists its enrichment of uranium is for peaceful purposes. But the latest move by the Security Council further isolates Iran politically by bringing China, Russia and the United States closer to a united front. Washington also is giving more support to the work of U.N. weapons inspectors. These steps are essential for resolving the crisis peacefully.
The Security Council voted 14-0 for a resolution that expands existing sanctions. It increases monitoring of Iranian banks, bans travel and freezes assets for more individuals and companies suspected of involvement in the country's nuclear program and authorizes inspections of suspicious cargo carried to and from Iran on ships and airplanes. These measures will help U.N. inspectors piece together what's happening behind Iran's wall of denials and government secrecy.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said newly obtained documents suggest that Iran had steered its nuclear research toward weapons development. That is a serious concern that the Security Council can pursue with its broad condemnation of Iran's record Monday. The United States has helped by giving more public support to the U.N.'s inspection regimen. On Monday, it agreed with the IAEA's call for more aggressive monitoring of the research conducted in Iran's military labs. That new sense of collaboration could yield practical results if the two sides share intelligence and technology.
Weapons inspectors are a defense, but the only good offense is bringing Iran into the stable of nations. That will require more diplomacy than the United States has expended up till now.