8564th Security Council Meeting: Non-Proliferation

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26-Jun-2019 02:19:55
Amid rising tensions in Persian Gulf, speakers in Security Council urge Iran, United States to maintain hard-won achievements of 2015 nuclear deal at 8564th meeting.

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Meeting today amid spiking tensions in the Persian Gulf, the Security Council considered the status of a 2015 deal governing Iran’s nuclear activities, with Tehran voicing frustration that its long‑standing compliance and “strategic patience” has failed to dissuade the United States from imposing new sanctions.

Speaking at the outset, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, described the Plan of Action — and Council resolution 2231 (2015) which endorsed it — as “hard-won achievements of successful multilateralism, nuclear non-proliferation, dialogue and diplomacy”. Regretting the United States 2018 withdrawal from the deal and its decision not to extend trade waivers, she also voiced concern about Tehran’s announcement on 8 May that it will not commit to respecting the Plan’s limits on enriched uranium stockpiles and water reserves. Pointing to mounting tensions over a recent attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, she emphasized that the world cannot afford another confrontation in the region. “Recent events in the Gulf are a reminder that we are at a critical juncture,” she stressed.

The Head of the European Union Delegation reminded Council members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s many achievements, pointing out that it rolled back Iran’s nuclear programme, blocked its access to plutonium and highly enriched uranium and established a robust verification mechanism through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Underscoring the bloc’s commitment to the deal, he expressed its determination to work with the international community to preserve it. Recalling that the lifting of sanctions is an essential component, he said the European Union is also committed to delivering economic dividends to the Iranian population.

Belgium’s representative, speaking in his capacity as Security Council Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), pointed out that consecutive IAEA reports have certified that Iran is complying with its nuclear commitments under the Plan of Action. “Let’s be realistic, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is at a crossroads,” he said. His role as Facilitator is not to look away from reality, but to identify, with full impartiality, the points of disagreement and help the parties reach an agreed solution, he said. Outlining some of those main points of divergence, he said some Member States view Iran’s missile and space launches as “inconsistent” with the Plan of Action, while Tehran’s counterarguments are based on a different interpretation of the agreement.

As Council members took the floor, many expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, noting that it was the result of 12 years of careful and painstaking negotiation. While several speakers expressed concern about Iran’s activities across the Middle East, they nevertheless stressed that abandoning the nuclear deal will only serve to further rachet up tensions.

France’s delegate — underscoring his country’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action so long as Iran respects its obligations — described the deal as a cornerstone of Middle East stability. Calling on all parties to refrain from words and actions that could weaken it and provoke an escalation of tensions, he echoed expressions of concern about the United States withdrawal, Iran’s announcement of non-compliance and its ballistic‑missile activities. Appealing for pragmatism and clear-headedness, he declared: “Let us not sleepwalk into a military confrontation.”

The representative of the United Kingdom also urged Iran not to follow through on threats to surpass the enriched uranium limits specified in the Plan of Action. Regarding that country’s ballistic‑missile launches, she said that — contrary to Tehran’s denials — such launches are, in fact, capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. “Stated intent is irrelevant,” she said, emphasizing that Iran’s pattern of destabilizing behaviour poses a threat to the region and noting with near certainty that the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was responsible for the recent attacks in the Strait of Hormuz.

Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate said of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: “This is an imperfect agreement, designed to temper the military ambitions of Iran.” Calling on States to pool their efforts to preserve the deal, he voiced hope that its gaps will be addressed through dialogue and on a consensus basis. Warning that an armed conflict in the Gulf region could have disastrous consequences, he called on the parties involved to exercise restraint.

The representative of the United States said today’s meeting comes as Iran continues to destabilize the Middle East through support to terrorist groups and proxy forces, as well as with new attacks on commercial shipping. That such violations have continued for years is evidence of the lax implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), he said. Describing Iran’s announcement to resume nuclear plans as deeply counterproductive, he rejected the false narrative that the United States is to blame for Iran’s economic woes. Washington, D.C., has made clear its willingness to engage in dialogue, but it will not sit idly by in the meantime. “Iran’s defiance of the Security Council, and its reckless behavior threatening peace and security globally, must not be downplayed in the name of preserving a deal that doesn’t fully cut off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon,” he said.

The speaker for the Russian Federation, however, said the United States is trying to shift the blame and seeking to punish those who implement Council resolutions. Noting that assertions that no one is planning regime change are followed by threats of obliteration and increased military presence, he said that such signals — incomprehensible even to an experienced cryptologist — can only bring the situation to a point of no return. Constantly raising the stakes, he stressed, will only provoke extreme sentiments.

Iran’s representative, pointing out that IAEA has, in 15 consecutive reports, confirmed his country’s full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, recalled that the accord also included provisions requiring the lifting of sanctions. In the year since the United States withdrew from the action plan, he said, Iran exercised maximum restraint and goodwill; however, that policy of strategic patience yielded no concrete results, with the United States only unleashing an economic war and brazenly threatening other States “to either violate resolution 2331 (2015) or face punishment”. It is against that backdrop that Tehran — in an effort to protect its interests and bring balance to the situation — announced its intention to limit the implementation of commitment on reserves of enriched uranium and heavy water, he said.

Also speaking were the representatives of Germany, South Africa, Peru, Poland, Indonesia, China, Equatorial Guinea, Dominican Republic and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 9:42 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.

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