"We call upon Iran once again to comply fully with all its international obligations," he said in a statement drafted by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

The major powers also proposed new talks with Tehran to find a negotiated solution to the nuclear stand-off.
 
Defiant Iran

Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, dismissed the sanctions as "unjustifiable".

"Iran does not seek confrontation nor does it want anything beyond its inalienable rights," he added. "I can assure you that pressure and intimidation will not change Iranian policy."

The US, however, said the new measures were a significant condemnation of Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"We are obviously very pleased by the strength of this resolution. It is a significant international rebuke to Iran and is a significant tightening of the international pressure on Iran," Nicholas Burns, the US undersecretary of state, said.

Intensive talks

The five permanent council members with veto power and Germany spent a month in intensive talks drawing up the text for the resolution.
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In order to get the support of non-permanent members such as South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, they added the importance of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and highlighted the role of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's ambassador to the UN, who had submitted amendments that deleted all the sanctions, said he voted in favour because of Pretoria's opposition to nuclear weapons, but he criticised the resolution for penalising Iranian institutions beyond the nuclear sphere.

The new measures come after a resolution adopted on December 23 banned trade in sensitive nuclear materials and ballistic missiles with Iran, as well as freezing assets of individuals and institutions associated with Tehran's atomic programmes. 

New restrictions

The resolution calls on, but does not order, nations and international financial institutions to restrict new grants, credits and loans to Iran.

It also calls for a voluntary travel embargo on Iranian officials and Revolutionary Guard commanders listed in the text and urges restrictions on the import of heavy weapons to Iran.

Tehran has been given 60 days to comply with the repeated UN demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment or it will face "further appropriate measures" - economic sanctions but no military action - under Article 41 of the UN Charter.

The resolution offers to suspend the sanctions once the IAEA, has verified that the Islamic Republic has met all its obligations.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, had said he wanted to make those arguments before the Security Council himself, but cancelled his visit to New York, accusing the US of delaying the delivery of his visa.

Tom Casey, the US state department deputy spokesman, said the visa had arrived in plenty of time and suggested that the Iranian president was "unwilling to stand before the council and take the heat for his continued defiance of the international community".