|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6999th Meeting (PM)
Sanctions Committee Split over Iran’s Launch of Ballistic Missiles Last July,
Chair Tells Security Council in Latest Briefing
Members Also Hear of Weapons Seizure off Yemen, Arms Sales to Non-State Groups
Amid continuing doubts about the uniquely civilian character of Iran’s nuclear programme, the Security Council heard a briefing today by the Chairman of its 1737 Sanctions Committee, who reported that members were divided over whether recent ballistic missile launches were in violation of Council resolution 1929 (2010).
Gary Quinlan (Australia), updating the Council on the 1737 Committee’s activities, as the Chair is mandated to do every 90 days, said a number of members felt that Iran’s launch of the Shabab 1 and 3 missiles during its so-called “Great Prophet” exercise constituted a “clear violation” of resolution 1929 (2010), and that Member States should therefore redouble their efforts to impose ballistic missile-related sanctions. However, “at this stage, some Committee members cannot share this view”.
He said the Committee intended to provide an update on the issue in its next 90-day report. As part of its search for appropriate responses to the unanimous conclusion reached by its Panel of Experts in its January report ‑ that launching the Shabab 1 and 3 missiles constituted a violation of the resolution ‑ he said the Committee had sought comment from Tehran in April, but no response had been received to date. The Committee was currently considering follow-up actions.
In response to a report by a Member State about another event in January, involving the interception of a vessel suspected of carrying illicit weapons from Iran for delivery to that State, he said the experts had concluded that the case constituted “either a violation or probable violation” of paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007). Several Committee members had said the evidence was sufficient to assert that Iran was in violation of its obligations, “illustrating a pattern of sanctions evasion through arms smugglings in the Middle East”. However, others had stated that the lack of stronger evidence as to the provenance of the arms, such as documentation, “justified the lack of definitive conclusion”. A letter sent in May, bringing the Panel’s conclusion to Iran’s attention and requesting its comment, had also gone unanswered.
At the same time, he said, the Committee was discussing whether, and how, to respond to the Panel’s compilation of publicly available statements by Iranian officials and alleged recipients of Iranian military assistance ‑ including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and Hizbullah ‑ regarding potential violations of resolution 1747 (2007). While some members saw value in seeking Iran’s official position on the matter, others felt that in the absence of physical corroborative evidence, such as seized arms or related materiel, such a letter would be premature. The Panel was now seeking to establish the existence of corroborative evidence, and looked forward to a report in due course.
Following the briefing, Council members reminded the Panel of Experts, which recently had its mandate extended for another year, of the need to be balanced, objective and impartial. The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized that the experts were acting in a personal rather than a national capacity, and their conclusions must be based only on reliable and verifiable information.
France’s representative declared that the Panel’s report showed “no ambiguity” concerning the violations of paragraph 9 of resolution 1929 (2010). It had provided valuable information on Iran’s illicit activities to “get around” sanctions. The Committee’s requests for explanations from Iran had been met with silence, he said, adding that “the Committee has waited long enough” and must now assume its responsibility and take action. The seizure of arms from Iran off the Yemeni coast last February was further evidence of the former’s destabilizing activities in the region.
Despite expressions of strong support for continued dialogue with Iran with a view to resolving pending issues, some delegations expressed frustration with the lack of progress on that front, including that of the United Kingdom, whose representative pointed out that since the Committee’s last briefing, Iran had shown no willingness to address legitimate international concerns. Indeed, “ Iran has no plausible purpose for the amount of enriched material it possesses, let alone the amount it can produce”. It was now essential and urgent that Iran cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on all outstanding issues, or international pressure on the country would continue to increase, he stressed.
Also delivering statements were representatives of Argentina, China, Luxembourg, Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo, Republic of Korea, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Rwanda and the United States.
The meeting began at 3:15 p.m. and ended at 4:33 p.m.
Meeting to consider non-proliferation this morning, the Security Council was expected to hear a briefing by the Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to its resolution 1737 (2006), also known as the 1737 Committee.
GARY FRANCIS QUINLAN (Australia), Chair of 1737 Committee, explained that due to the length of the report by the Panel of Experts, covering the period 6 March to 15 July, he would read a shortened version, and the full text would be published shortly on the Committee’s website.
He went on to recall that he had reported in March that the Committee was exploring appropriate responses to the Panel’s unanimous conclusion, contained in its January report, that Iran’s launches of the Shabab 1 and 3 missiles during its “Great Prophet” exercises constituted a violation of resolution 1929 (2010). The Committee had written to Iran in April seeking its comment within 15 days of the Panel’s conclusion, but regrettably, no response had been received to date. The Council President had subsequently reached out to the Permanent Mission of Iran on 28 June and the Committee was considering additional follow-up actions, among them issuing an Implementation Assistance Notice on Iran’s prohibited ballistic missile programme. A number of Committee members felt the launches constituted a “clear violation” of resolution 1929 (2010), and that Member States should therefore redouble their efforts to impose ballistic missile-related sanctions on Iran. “At this stage, some Committee members cannot share this view,” he said, adding that the Committee intended to provide an update on the issue in its next 90-day report.
Regarding a report by a Member State about a January incident involving the interception of a vessel suspected of carrying illicit weapons from Iran for delivery to that State, he said the experts had concluded that the case constituted “either a violation or probable violation” of paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007). Several Committee members had said the evidence was sufficient to assert that Iran was in violation of its obligations, “illustrating a pattern of sanctions evasion through arms smugglings in the Middle East”. However, other Committee members had stated that the lack of stronger evidence as to the provenance of the arms, such as documentation, “justified the lack of definitive conclusion”.
The Committee had agreed to send a letter bringing the Panel’s conclusion to Iran’s attention, while expressing concern about its findings and requesting its comment, he said. However, its letter of 21 May had gone unanswered to date. At the same time, the Committee continued to discuss whether, and how, to respond to the Panel’s compilation of publicly available statements by Iranian officials, and alleged recipients of Iranian military assistance, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hizbullah, regarding potential violations of resolution 1747 (2007). While some members saw value in seeking Iran’s official position on the matter, others felt that in the absence of physical corroborative evidence, such as actual seized arms or related materiel, such a letter would be premature. The Panel was now investigating the substance of the reported statements in order to determine whether corroborative evidence existed, and looked forward to a report in due course.
During the reporting period, he said, the Committee had received communications from several Member States relating to their actions to implement relevant resolutions. During informal consultations on 28 May, the Panel’s Coordinator had briefed the Council, stressing that Iran “continues to seek items from abroad for its prohibited activities, by using complex procurement methods, including front companies, false documentation and intermediaries”. She had further stressed the Panel’s assessment that Iran remained dependent on foreign imports for key components of its nuclear and missile programmes, which indicated the ongoing relevance of the sanctions.
Noting that the Council had adopted resolution 2105 (2013) extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 9 July, he said the Committee’s recent activities in connection with the renewed mandate included steps to implement its work programme for the first half of this year. On 26 March, it had received a de-listing request from the First Export Bank, an entity currently on the Committee’s Consolidated List. Currently before the Committee was a proposal, received on 7 June, to designate an entity pursuant to resolution 1929 (2010).
He went on to say that the Committee had granted a request to exempt a designated individual banned from travelling so that he could attend the high-level International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Saint Petersburg in June. However, it had not granted a subsequent request to extend the exemption to another forum, in Moscow, and it had also denied a request to exempt a second individual from the travel ban so he could attend the June IAEA conference in Saint Petersburg. Two notifications in connection with the sanctions regime had also been received during the reporting period, he said.
MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said it was important that the Committee maintain a close relationship with Member States, including by responding to their questions. Indeed, sanctions implementation bodies should become more efficient and transparent, and the quality of their lists should be improved. While reiterating the inalienable right of all States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purpose without discrimination, she said her country shared the IAEA’s concern over Iran’s lack of cooperation. “It is essential that Iran cooperate in an active manner with the body, and provide all the information on its nuclear programme that is requested,” she emphasized. Iran should therefore adopt the necessary measures for the implementation of its obligations, thereby restoring the confidence of the international community in the peaceful purposes of its nuclear programme.
MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said that since the Committee’s last briefing, Iran had shown no willingness to address legitimate international concerns. “ Iran has no plausible purpose for the amount of enriched material it possesses, let alone the amount it can produce,” he said, emphasizing that it was now essential and urgent that the country cooperate with IAEA on all outstanding issues. If, following upcoming elections, Iran was ready to do so, the United Kingdom was “ready to respond in good faith”, he said, cautioning, however, that without cooperation, international pressure on Iran would continue to increase. Welcoming the renewal of the mandate of the Panel of Experts, which included both a Russian and a Chinese expert, he said its final report underlined the importance of outreach by the Committee.
WANG MIN (China) said that while Council resolutions on Iran should be implemented comprehensively, sanctions were not their fundamental objective. The Committee and Expert Panel should promote efforts to resolve the nuclear issues, bearing in mind the objectives of the relevant resolution, and holding in-depth discussions in a balanced and practical manner in order to “come up with conclusions in a cautious manner”. Assessment of violations should be based on “clear facts and hard evidence”, he added. A solution through dialogue and negotiation was the “only, right viable path and the universal aspiration of the international community”. China opposed the use of force, and the threat of its use, in addition to opposing increased new pressures or sanctions against Iran. The parties should seize the present opportunity to mobilize positive factors and start a new round of talks as soon as possible. Iran, for its part, should cooperate with IAEA to settle pending issues, he said, reiterating the need for an objective, just and responsible approach.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said that while the Expert Panel’s report had provided the Committee with “tangible” assistance, it must be balanced and objective in carrying out its activities under its parent body’s guidance. The experts were not acting in a national capacity, but in a personal one, and the Committee’s conclusions and assessments should be based “only on reliable and verifiable information”, with thorough analysis. Hasty conclusions not based on facts must be avoided. Welcoming the statement by Iran’s new President regarding his country’s readiness to show more openness in respect of its nuclear programme, he said he trusted that those intentions would be borne out in practice. There was no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement, with efforts based on gradual, reciprocal steps and in line with the principles of the NPT, he emphasized, before stating that unilateral sanctions were undermining collective international action to resolve the Iranian question.
SYLVIE LUCAS ( Luxembourg) said it appeared that, behind the increasing number of incidents, was hidden a “sophisticated system of persistent violations” on the part of Iran. “Not reacting […] means that we are shirking our responsibility and we might lose our credibility,” she warned. Luxembourg took note with renewed concern of the latest IAEA report’s conclusions on the implementation of safeguard agreements in Iran, and strongly deplored the fact that negotiations with a view to concluding an agreement were bogged down. Iran continued to increase its nuclear-enrichment capacity and to build up its stockpiles, which far exceeded its needs, she said, calling on Iran to dispel international concerns by complying with all its obligations. Luxembourg supported a negotiated solution based on a two-track approach, she said, emphasizing that the Iranian authorities should continue adding “real substance” to dialogue, and set the stage for the long-term solution that all wished to see.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) noted with concern the contents of the IAEA Director-General’s most recent report. “ Iran has continued to speed up its nuclear programme, and pending matters still have not been resolved, including matters related to the possible military dimension of its programme,” he said, describing the absence of dialogue as a “serious concern” and a “source of great frustration for the international community”. He urged Iran to adopt measures for the full implementation of safeguards and other commitments under the NPT, and to open its doors for inspections. Finally, he said that, following Iran’s June elections, he hoped the “new phase of political life” would facilitate its greater engagement with the international community.
SAHEBZADA AHMED KHAN (Pakistan) declared that a peaceful and negotiated solution was possible and, more importantly, essential. However, it would require political will and flexibility by all concerned as well as reciprocal confidence-building measures. A negotiated solution must be facilitated by striking a balance between sanctions and negotiations, he said, urging the Council and the 1737 Committee to revisit the objectives and strategies set out in the relevant resolutions. Insisting that the findings and activities of the Panel of Experts must conform to high standards of objectivity and impartiality, and be supported by credible evidence, he emphasized that any path to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, particularly safeguards agreements, should be based on the NPT and IAEA. In closing, he stressed the need to broaden the Panel’s composition to include experts from developing countries as part of a transparent recruitment process.
PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) said the Panel’s report provided valuable information on Iran’s illicit activities to “get around” sanctions. It showed the country’s continuing lack of respect for its international obligations, its persistence in carrying out sensitive nuclear and ballistic activities, as well as weapons transfers, in violation of Council resolutions. Such violations fed into the spiral of violence in the Middle East, he said, recalling that last February’s seizure of weapons from Iran off the Yemeni coast was further evidence of its destabilizing activities in the region. There were also reports about its arms transfers to non-State groups in Gaza, also in breach of its obligations, and it had launched the Shabab 1 and 3 ballistic missiles under its Prophet 7 exercise. The report showed “no ambiguity” concerning violations of paragraph 9 of resolution 1929 (2010), and the Committee’s request for explanations had been met with silence. The Committee “has waited long enough” and must now assume its responsibility and take action.
LIMBIYÉ KADANGHA-BARIKI ( Togo) noted that the crisis of communication around Iran’s nuclear programme continued unabated. In Vienna on 15 May, talks between IAEA and Iran had reached no agreement on a structured approach, and the Agency had received no concrete reply to several requests. That, compounded by Iran’s lack of cooperation, had led to an impression that its nuclear activities had a military dimension. Togo called on Iran to step up dialogue with IAEA and the international community, and to allow access to its nuclear sites. It was important that Iran respect and implement fully IAEA and Security Council resolutions, he said, emphasizing, however, that all countries, including Iran, had the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Togo had recently co-organized a regional seminar on the “Implementation of United Nations Sanctions: Teachings and Prospects”, which had provided information on practical measures for such implementation. He concluded by urging the Council to pay greater attention to competence and geographical representation when appointing its experts.
KIM SOOK (Republic of Korea), expressing disappointment at the lack of consensus on the language of the report, said there was no reason to question the experts’ conclusion that last July’s ballistic missile launches constituted a violation of resolution 1929 (2010). “Already, a year has passed since the violation,” he said, stressing that it was time the Committee considered taking follow-up action, including by issuing an Implementation Assistance Notice. Also of concern was Iran’s failure to respond to the 21 May letter regarding the Panel’s incident report on illicit transfer of arms to Yemen, as well as its provision of military supplies to the Gaza Strip. The “P5+1” had made tireless efforts to engage and open the window for peaceful negotiations, but IAEA talks with Iran were “going around in circles”, he said, urging the Iranian Government to engage without further delay regarding the possible military dimensions of its nuclear programme, the expansion of its enrichment capacity, and activities undermining the Agency’s capacity for effective verification at the Parchin site.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) stressed the need to continue dialogue for the sake of regional stability. Noting the investigation into the January incident reported by a Member State, he said it was critical to examine all such incidents impartially and objectively, on the basis of credible and factual evidence. The round of talks in June between Iran and IAEA had aimed to conclude a structured approach, but according to the Agency’s Board of Governors, no such agreement had been reached, nor had it been possible to begin substantive work on the outstanding issues. He urged Iran to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, and expressed hope for concrete progress in further dialogue.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) recalled that despite intensified dialogue, Iran and IAEA had recently not been able to reach agreement on a structured approach to pending issues, including on the possible military dimension of the country’s nuclear programme. The Agency was the only competent body to oversee safeguards and, as such, should receive the necessary full cooperation. It was crucial to avoid weakening the NPT, the impact of which depended on respect by all States. Morocco remained attached to the overall aim of nuclear disarmament, while recognizing the right of all States to nuclear energy exclusively for peaceful purposes.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda) said every country had the right to produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and it was critical that Iran take all necessary measures to demonstrate that its nuclear programme was peaceful. Indeed, that was the only way in which the sanctions harming the Iranian people would be lifted. At the moment, however, it would be prudent for the Committee to refrain from taking further action, and instead to engage with Iran’s new leadership, which had promised greater dialogue and transparency on nuclear matters. Rwanda therefore called on all parties to resume talks “which could be the only way to diffuse the growing tensions in the region”.
ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) said Iran’s long-standing violations of its international obligations were “irrefutable”. Having demonstrated a lack of willingness to address IAEA and Council demands, it was moving “full speed ahead” with its activities, she said. Indeed, instead of finding ways to reduce tensions and build confidence, Iran had announced future plans to build new nuclear facilities. Also of concern was its transfer of weapons to Yemen, an “aggressive act” designed to undermine that country’s transition. In addition, Iran had sent weapons to the Assad regime, to Hizbullah and to other deadly groups, she said, calling upon the Council to tackle such actions with renewed urgency. “Principled diplomacy is the best tool to achieve a comprehensive and lasting solution” to the threats posed by Iran, she added, noting that until that country was prepared substantively to address all aspects of the P5+1 proposals, the group would remain committed to increasing Iran’s isolation.
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