Non-Proliferation - Security Council, 9085th meeting
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Non-proliferation.

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Negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the United States and Iran are at a critical juncture, briefers told the Security Council today, stressing that the momentum of recent days on that landmark achievement in nuclear non-proliferation must not be lost.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, noted diplomatic engagements in and around the Joint Commission to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action resumed in November 2021.  Achieving the Plan of Action took determined diplomacy, and restoring it will require additional effort and patience, she said, urging Iran and the United States to quickly mobilize in that spirit and commitment.  She appealed to the United States to lift or waive its sanctions as outlined in the Plan and called on Iran to reverse the steps it has taken that are not consistent with its nuclear‑related commitments.

She also noted that, although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cannot verify it, the Agency estimates a total enriched uranium stockpile in Iran of more than 15 times the allowable amount — including uranium enriched to 20 per cent and 60 per cent, which is extremely worrying.  IAEA reported that its verification and monitoring activities have been seriously affected by Iran’s decision to stop implementing its nuclear-related commitments, including by removing cameras and placing them and the collected data under Agency seals.

After many years of uncertainty, the Plan was now at a critical juncture, she said, expressing hope that Iran and the United States continue to build on the momentum of the last few days of talks, facilitated by the European Union, in Doha, to resolve the remaining issues.  The Plan was a triumph for non‑proliferation and multilateralism, she said, urging that painstaking efforts of many years not “slip between our fingers”.

Björn Olof Skoog, Permanent Observer for the European Union, in its capacity as observer, speaking on behalf of Josep Borrell, Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, said that, since the last report on the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) in December 2021, all Plan of Action participants and the United States continued their intense negotiations in Vienna to restore the Plan.  Those negotiations have been challenging in terms of overcoming the trust deficit following previous actions by both parties.  However, a promising and detailed text was produced by March.

Nonetheless, he voiced grave concern over Iran’s continued accumulation of enriched uranium and the installation of advanced centrifuges and its removal of IAEA cameras from key nuclear facilities, which have substantially decreased the Agency’s access to relevant information on the nuclear programme.  Voicing regret about the re-imposition of previously lifted United States unilateral sanctions, he said restoration of the Plan of Action is the only way for Iran to reap the full benefits of the Plan and reach its full economic potential.  Calling for the necessary political will restore the Plan of Action on the basis of the text that is on the table, he urged all Member States to refrain from actions and statements that increase regional and international tensions.

Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), Security Council Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), said the report provides a factual account of the activities that took place in the “2231 format” of the Security Council, covering the period from 8 December 2021 to 23 June 2022.  The 2231 format also had a discussion on the ongoing diplomatic efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, on ballistic missile and space vehicle launches by Iran, and issues related to implementation of the resolution.  She stressed that IAEA’s work is essential to provide confidence for the international community that Iran’s nuclear programme is for exclusively peaceful purposes.  During the reporting period, no new proposals were submitted to the Council through the procurement channel, but that channel remains operational.  Citing the Plan as a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation, she noted that discussions between the parties are ongoing.  They must uphold the agreement in both letter and spirit.

When the floor opened for discussion, delegates traded concerns over Iran’s worrisome enrichment of uranium and the continued imposition of sanctions by the United States, stressing time was of the essence in reaching an agreement.

The representative of the United States emphasized that his country can conclude and implement a deal if Iran drops additional demands that are outside the scope of the Plan of Action.  However, “Iran has yet to demonstrate any real urgency to conclude a deal in the current nuclear crisis and achieve important sanctions lifting”, he said.  Voicing concern about steps recently taken by that country which undermined IAEA verification and monitoring procedures, he stressed that Tehran must cooperate to resolve those concerns without further delay.

The representative of Gabon, noting that Iran continues to attach great interest in cooperating with IAEA, urged for unilateral coercive measures imposed on the country to be reconsidered, as they have a negative impact on its economy and contribute tensions that increase security risks.  Stressing the importance of achieving the objectives of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, she said the Plan of Action is the ideal framework, and a tangible expression of the desire to favour diplomatic and political channels in the settlement of disputes.

Brazil’s delegate, emphasizing that the Iranian nuclear issue can only be resolved by peaceful and diplomatic means, called upon all parties to refrain from any further actions that may jeopardize a possible and necessary agreement on the issue.  He expressed regret that, since 23 February 2021, the Agency`s verification and monitoring activities of nuclear-related commitments have been seriously affected, and welcomed efforts of the IAEA Director General to preserve the Agency's ability to fulfil its role in implementing safeguards in Iran.

However, the Russian Federation’s delegate — while calling the Plan of Action a symbol of the parties’ capacity to reach agreement despite considerable divergences on positions — pointed out that balance was disrupted in 2018 with the United States’ unilateral departure, and its subsequent steps.  Washington, D.C.’s, illegitimate unilateral sanctions and its policy of maximum pressure on Iran is the main cause of the current problems plaguing the agreement.  All of Iran’s subsequent steps were a reaction to those destructive measures.  He voiced regret that that causal link was not fully made clear in the Secretary-General's report, adding that that was not the first time of such a case.

Iran’s representative, echoing that stance, stressed that his country’s nuclear commitments were connected to the lifting of all sanctions and normalization of trade and economic relations.  Still, the sanctions are still in place.  Washington, D.C., withdrew from the agreement on 8 May 2018 and re-imposed them, putting unparalleled pressure on other countries to disregard their obligations or face punishment — unprecedented in Council history.  Iran had continued honouring its commitments, validated 15 times by IAEA, but after European participants disregarded promises to compensate the losses Iran suffered, his country had no choice but to exercise its rights to partially suspend its commitments on 8 May 2019, he said.

Iran has demanded verifiable and objective guarantees from the United States that the Plan will not be torpedoed again, he said.  However, that Government’s unrealistic and rigid approach has led to the current stalemate.  Nonetheless, when other parties fulfil all their obligations, Tehran will immediately reverse all its steps.  Noting that IAEA continues its activities in Iran without hindrance, he stressed the Agency's recent claims are based solely on false information provided by Israel.  The ball is in the United States’ court, he said, and if it acts realistically, the agreement is not out of reach.

Also speaking were the representatives of Mexico, United Kingdom, China, France, Norway, Ghana, India, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Albania and Germany.

The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and ended at 12:31 p.m.