At last, there's been some movement in the effort to contain Iran's nuclear program after years of effort. Unfortunately, not all of it is good.

At last, there's been some movement in the effort to contain Iran's nuclear program after years of effort. Unfortunately, not all of it is good.

Things certainly didn't take a step forward at the beginning of last week, when the Iranians trumpeted an agreement they'd reached with Turkey and Brazil to export their low-enriched uranium to the latter, in exchange for reprocessed fuel rods suitable only for peaceful power plant and medical uses. As the New York Times noted in an editorial, Turkey and Brazil "got played by Tehran."

Indeed, because Iran has managed to pick apart, delay and otherwise sabotage previous efforts to get them to swap the two types of nuclear material, they'll still have enough - especially given the amount they're believed to have hidden - to keep a weapons program running. Meanwhile, they remain in technical compliance with the United Nations' efforts to keep their nuclear ambitions in check. This was a setback for the United States, which couldn't keep allies Turkey and Brazil on board.

Fortunately, a day after that agreement was announced, a second deal far more favorable to the West was rolled out as the U.S. declared it had wrangled all the veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council into supporting a slew of new sanctions against Iran. That, too, had been an uphill diplomatic fight years in the making, with first Russia and then China gradually coming around only this year. Better still, both nations remained on board even after - perhaps because of - the news of Tehran's nuclear swap pact. Said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "It is not sufficient for Iran to stand at a press conference and make a declaration."

Certainly the sanctions didn't go as far as they could, with some elements unlikely to be carried out at all - like the basically unenforceable provision requiring that ships believed to be carrying nuclear weapons components to or from Iranian ports be stopped and searched. But other elements put a new financial pinch on the Revolutionary Guard that runs the show militarily there as well as on other key insitutions. Significantly, it bans the regime from buying a variety of conventional weapons - tanks, combat aircraft, missiles, artillery systems - and prohibits them from conducting any ballistic missile activity or building new enrichment sites.

Will Iran comply? Probably not, but those set the table for a confrontation down the road if, as is almost certain, Iran keeps its nuclear program going. Iran's defiance will then be undeniable, and its past defenders will have no leg to stand on. Having not just the U.S. but the world against you makes a difference.

Beyond that, there appears to be a general agreement that the UN sanctions will probably trigger further nation-to-nation restrictions from a number of European countries that have had ties to Iran. The U.S. is cooking up additional freezes of its own, as well.

The process is far from over, of course. But with broad backing for the new sanctions, the burden is back on Iran, where it should be.

Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.