Iran, the United States and Russia criticized a new U.N. report on implementation of the nuclear deal codified in Security Council Resolution 2231. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in his first bi-annual report on the deal, commended Iran and the world’s major powers for implementing their commitments. He, however, highlighted Iran’s complaint that it has yet to fully benefit from the lifting of sanctions due to U.S. policies. He also called on Tehran to refrain from ballistic missile launches, which “are not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under Secretary General Jeffrey Feltman briefed the council on the report on July 18.
Iran’s foreign ministry said that the report was biased against Iran due to U.S. pressure on the United Nations. On July 18, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the Security Council that Washington “disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope.” Russia raised similar concerns about the extent of the secretary general’s mandate. The following are key findings from the report, excerpts from Under Secretary General Feltman’s summary and reactions by U.S., Iranian and Russian officials.
Report of the Secretary General on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)
Key findings and Recommendations
5. Six months since Implementation Day, I am encouraged by the implementation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement, pending its entry into force, and the transparency measures contained in the Plan. The Agency reported that it was continuing to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material, and that its evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared material or activities were ongoing. Since Implementation Day, the Agency has been verifying and monitoring the implementation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Plan. I call upon Member States to continue to provide support to IAEA so that it may fulfil its mandate under the Plan. In addition, there have been no reports of the supply, sale, transfer or export to the Islamic Republic of Iran of nuclear-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of the Plan and resolution 2231 (2015).
6. The key practical arrangements for supporting the work of the Security Council and its facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) are in place. In particular, the necessary operational linkages between the Council and the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission for the processing of nuclear-related proposals submitted by Member States under the procurement channel have been established, with due regard given to information security and confidentiality.
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7. These positive developments notwithstanding, the Islamic Republic of Iran brought to the attention of the Secretariat its view that it has yet to fully benefit from the lifting of multilateral and national sanctions. The concerns raised by the country include issues such as the United States Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 and the confiscation of Central Bank assets following a United States court order. Annex I to the present report reflects the information obtained by the Secretariat in the course of its contacts with Iranian representatives.
Implementation challenges exist for any agreement, in particular one as comprehensive and complex as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. I call upon all participants to remain steadfast in their commitment to the full implementation of the agreement and work through challenges in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, good faith and reciprocity. In that regard, I am encouraged by the strong commitments of the European Union and the United States to ensuring that the Plan works for all its participants, including by delivering benefits to the Iranian people.
8. With regard to the implementation of the provisions of annex B to resolution 2231 (2015), I am concerned by the ballistic missile launches conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran in March 2016. I call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to refrain from conducting such launches, given that they have the potential to increase tensions in the region. Whereas it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
9. I am also concerned by the reported seizure of an arms shipment by the United States Navy in the Gulf of Oman in March 2016 (see annex II). The United States concluded that the arms had originated in the Islamic Republic of Iran and were likely bound for Yemen. The Islamic Republic of Iran has informed the Secretariat that it never engaged in such delivery (see annex I). I would like to remind all Member States of their obligation to fully implement paragraph 6 (b) of annex B to resolution 2231 (2015), and I call upon them to provide reports on any arms seizures to the Council and to my Office.
10. I wish to draw the attention of the Security Council to the participation of Iranian entities in the Fifth Iraq Defence Exhibition, held in Baghdad in March. No prior approval was requested from the Council for the transfer of arms from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Iraq. The Secretariat has sought clarification from both countries on the issue. The Islamic Republic of Iran has indicated to the Secretariat that, in its view, such an activity did not require prior approval of the Council, given that it retained ownership of the items displayed (see annex I). I recommend that the Council clarify whether paragraph 6 (b) applies to all supply, sale or transfer regardless of change of ownership.
11. An entity on the list established under resolution 2231 (2015) and maintained by the Security Council, the Defence Industries Organisation, also appears to have participated in the exhibition and should have been subject to action under the asset freeze provisions of the resolution. Likewise, I am informing the Security Council that open-source information indicates that a listed individual, Major General Qasem Soleimani, recently travelled to Iraq. The Secretariat has also sought clarification from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq on those issues, and I intend to report back to the Council accordingly.
12. In its response to queries on the Fifth Iraq Defence Exhibition and the travel by Major General Qasem Soleimani, Iraq informed the Secretariat that it was “fully aware of its obligations according to its understanding regarding resolution 2231 (2015) specifically, operative paragraph 7 (a) and paragraph 18 in annex A, which clearly terminated all previous resolutions and sanctions regime set out in resolutions adopted from 2006-2015”. Furthermore, Iraq stated that resolution 2231 (2015) was “lengthy, technical and confusing”. This demonstrates the importance of further awareness-raising and outreach activities on the provisions of resolution 2231 (2015) and the obligations of Member States.
Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman
A year ago, the Security Council adopted resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This resolution, including the historic agreement it addresses, stands apart as a signal accomplishment in the history of this Council. Through diplomacy and negotiations – China, France, Germany the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, with the support of the European Union, and Iran – addressed one of the most pressing peace and security issues on the agenda of the Security Council for the last decade.
Resolution 2231 (2015) heralded a new chapter for Iran’s relationship with the Security Council. Fully implemented, the JCPOA will reinforce global non-proliferation norms, and assure the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme. It will also, through sanctions lifting, help to realize the long-awaited hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people to be reconnected to the global economy and the international community.
Six months after Implementation Day, the Secretary-General commends the Islamic Republic of Iran for implementing its nuclear-related commitments, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also commends the European Union and the United States for the steps they have taken in accordance with their sanctions-related commitments under the JCPOA.
As we consider today’s report on the implementation of the provisions of Annex B to resolution 2231 (2015), we do so against this backdrop of progress in the implementation of the JCPOA and the expressed commitment of all its participants to jointly work through implementation challenges.
As the Secretary-General noted in his report, implementation challenges exist for any agreement, let alone one as comprehensive and complex as the JCPOA. He calls on all participants to stay the course, fully implement all aspects of this landmark agreement, and work through challenges in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, good faith and reciprocity.
—July 18, 2016, in remarks to the U.N. Security Council
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
“The report has been compiled based on incomplete information, while he [Ban] was not informed of the developments at the time of negotiations; as we have earlier said, the U.N. played no role in the development of the nuclear deal and as witnessed, they have done something that is not beneficial to the nuclear deal.”
“In a statement we issued concurrently with Resolution 2231, we stated that we would continue our actions in the campaign against terrorism and it is our policy and is not related to the nuclear deal [referencing the report’s citation of Iranian arms supplies to Iraq].”
—July 19, 2016, in an interview with Fars News Agency translated by Iran Front Page
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi
“The report has been compiled under the blatant pressures of the U.S. on the U.N. Secretariat and the allegations raised against the Islamic Republic of Iran in this report are baseless.”
“The concerns raised in the report on Iran's missile tests are fully biased.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates again that its ballistic missiles cannot be considered within the framework of Resolution 2231 as they have not been designed for carrying nuclear warheads; hence, the Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t allow anyone even to opine on its defense systems.”
“The report has made a simple mention of such cases (of defiance) and avoided serious demand from the P5+1 to remain committed to their undertakings.”
—July 18, 2016, to the press
U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power
It has been one year since the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the EU concluded a deal with Iran to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is, and will remain, a peaceful one. Despite a long history of deep mistrust on both sides, commitments have been kept. Despite dire predictions to the contrary, the deal has held. That is a truly significant achievement. In the time since, Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges and filled the core of its plutonium reactor at Arak with concrete. More than 98 percent of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has been moved out of the country; the remainder is under continuous monitoring to make sure that Iran stays within the stockpile limit. As a result, Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon remain closed, and Iran’s breakout time has been extended from two to three months before the deal, to at least a year today. We know all this and more because the deal granted the IAEA unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear facility and supply chains, allowing for effective monitoring and evaluation. If and when questions or concerns arise in this monitoring, we have a process to address them.
The United States acknowledges and welcomes Iran’s swift implementation of this historic deal, which has produced real, tangible change; change that, without question, has improved international peace and security, which is the primary purpose of this Council. We also recognize that negotiating this deal – and implementing it – has required overcoming great skepticism in some Iranian quarters. The world is safer because of this deal.
It has been six months since the IAEA’s verification that Iran completed its key nuclear-related commitments under the deal, and since the simultaneous lifting of UN, EU, and U.S. nuclear-related sanctions. While Member State implementation of JCPOA commitments is a subject for the Joint Commission rather than this Council, let me be clear that the United States, our P5+1 partners, and the EU have thus far fully and unequivocally implemented all our commitments under this deal, by lifting nuclear-related sanctions specified in the deal, and by providing clear and timely guidance to government and private sector partners about engagement with Iran that is now permitted.
Consistent with the terms of the deal, and directly resulting from the choices its leaders have made, the economic burden on the Iranian people has been eased. And the United States will continue to implement its commitments, in good faith and without exception, under the JCPOA.
Yet while it is undeniable that the deal has led to significant, verifiable progress in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, it is also true that Iran and other Member States have at times taken actions that, while not violations of the JCPOA, are inconsistent with Resolution 2231. The report released today by the Secretary-General documents a number of such actions. These include Iran’s repeated ballistic missile launches, which this Council called upon Iran not to undertake. The report states that these launches have the “potential to increase tensions in the region.” Iran does not hide these launches. The report also notes violations by Iran of Resolution 2231, such as arms transfers to other parts of the region, some of which have been interdicted. And the Secretary-General’s report documents violations of asset freezes and travel restrictions applicable to Iranian entities designated by this Council, such as the participation of Iran’s Defense Industries Organization in an arms exhibition in Iraq.
No one – and in that I would include UN Member States, the Security Council, and the Secretariat – should turn a blind eye to such actions. As we have said all along of this resolution – implementation is everything.
That means that when the resolution is violated, or actions are taken that are inconsistent with it, those actions must be documented and condemned. And it means that all Member States – especially the members of this Council, and the P5+1 countries, and Iran, who negotiated the deal – must do their part in implementing the resolution. That is why the United States commends the actions of the Royal Australian Navy and the French Navy, which intercepted and confiscated Iranian arms shipments on February 27, and March 20, respectively – and as the U.S. Navy did on March 28. And it means that this Council and the international community must call out Member States when they do not fulfill their responsibilities under this resolution.
The United States disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope. We understand that Iran also disagrees strongly with parts of the report. For our part, while some have argued that, to be balanced, the report should give Iran a chance to express complaints about sanctions relief under the deal, the Security Council did not mandate the Secretariat to report on issues unrelated to implementation of Annex B of Resolution 2231. It was instead the Joint Commission that was carefully designed by the JCPOA participants to discuss and resolve any such implementation issues, and that is the appropriate channel to raise such concerns.
The United States has fully implemented all of our sanctions-related commitments under the deal – and we’ve responded to questions about them both through the Joint Commission and through extensive bilateral engagement with Iran. Even beyond fulfilling our JCPOA commitments, the United States has engaged with governments, businesses, and banks around the world that have questions about our changed sanctions environment.
To be clear: the deal has not resolved all of our differences with Iran. We continue to be profoundly concerned about human rights abuses that Iran commits against its own people, and about the instability Iran continues to fuel through its destabilizing activities in the region, including repeated threats against Israel.
But we are undoubtedly in a better place to address these and other challenges without the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. And the lines of communication we developed with Iran over the course of our negotiations have already proven useful to engaging in other areas of vital interest, as occurred in January, when Iran detained ten U.S. sailors and two U.S. Naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. The sailors were released in less than a day – in no small part because Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Zarif are able to work constructively. Iran has joined the ISSG, which is trying to resolve the horrific conflict in Syria – a goal that would be impossible without all the countries that are involved in the conflict in Syria at the table.
Let me conclude. As you all know, it took the P5+1, the EU, and Iran two years of grueling negotiations to reach a deal designed to address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. At several points, negotiations nearly collapsed due to distrust and the inability of participants to find a compromise. But we persisted, knowing that the instability that would come from a potential conflict demanded that we exhaust all options in seeking an effective diplomatic solution. The deal is a reminder of what we can achieve when we come together to confront shared threats, and engage our adversaries through robust, principled diplomacy.
Yet building on the progress made – progress that critics of the deal said the world would never see – is not guaranteed. And it is not irreversible. Rather, it continues to depend on the willingness of the Security Council, the Secretariat, and each of our individual countries to do its part in implementing the resolution. Our collective security demands nothing less.
—July 18, 2016, at the U.N. Security Council briefing
U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin
The report contained factual errors and headings in the report referring to restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program that “simply don't coincide with the subject of the report.”
“Some of the provision of the Secretary General’s report have no relation to his mandate, nor to the terms of reference of [the U.N.] resolution or the [nuclear deal].”
—July 18, 2016, according to Reuters
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