Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the Security Council meeting on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) (S/2016/589)

July 18, 2016

We thank the Permanent Representative of Spain for the briefing on his work as the Security Council facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015), as well as the Head of the Delegation of the European Union, who spoke about the Working Group on transfers. We also listened closely to Mr. Feltman, who presented the Secretary-General’s report (S/2016/589) on the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015).

In July 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme was concluded. It was a triumph for multilateral diplomacy, which has allowed us to resolve one of the most difficult questions of international relations, and to do so through peaceful means. However, that success must be anchored by the conscientious fulfilment of the JCPOA by all of the parties to the agreement. We think that, on the whole, the implementation of the JCPOA is going rather well. At this stage, all of those involved in the process need to concentrate on unswerving implementation of the provisions of resolution 2231 (2015) and of the JCPOA, which stipulates all the necessary mechanisms to be confident that Iran is keeping to its commitments.

I will be direct. The Secretary-General’s report comes from outside the usual, necessary working methods. The document has a politically biased character and goes beyond the factual outlining of the course of the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015). Furthermore, it contains a number of pieces of information that are not really relevant in that regard. I would like to remind the Council that when resolution 2231 (2015) was agreed it was decided that we would not set up a group of experts similar to that of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006). Unfortunately, this document looks like a hapless relapse into the activities of that Group of Experts. In its current form, the report will not just facilitate the sustainable fulfilment of the JCPOA, but it also may undermine the agreements reached so far. Advocating a compact, technical and factual document, we assumed first and foremost it would work from the politically sensitive nature of the question and the fragility of the compromises reflected in the JCPOA and resolution 2231 (2015). We offerred corrections in the course of the preliminary discussions, and we hoped to avoid public criticism of the Secretary-General. However, our comments and our proposals were not heard. I will outline some of our main reservations.

Let us begin with the fact that the document contains simple factual errors, such as, for example, that JCPOA was never signed, as is stated in the report. According to the methodology of the selection and use of information, we think it unacceptable to include any unchecked data, which is simply being picked up by the media or received from isolated countries. In particular in those cases, when the question being considered has not yet been finished, the Secretariat should work solely on the basis of officially provided information and verified facts.

In the sections on so-called violations, they should be limited to an outline of the issue and official comments from the affected parties and references to the fact that information in these statements have yet to be checked and that the question is still under consideration. Their analysis has not yet been completed with the exclusion of missile launches. Any conclusions or recommendations on that basis are hasty, and with the absence of verified information, simply impossible. We assume that the question of including data in the report should be reviewed as part of the preparation for the next Secretary-General’s report, which will come out in six months.

In the course of these discussions, we have seen interesting methodologies being used. Individual countries are making statements when references are being included in the Secretary-General’s report. But why are those countries referring to a report as documentary evidence of what they have asserted? All of this would simply be funny if we were not talking about such an important issue as the implementation of the JCPOA.

Some provisions of the Secretary-General’s report have no relation to his mandate nor to the terms of reference of resolution 2231 (2015) or the JCPOA. In our view, if the Secretary-General wants to outline his own point of view, then he or Mr. Feltman could always do that in the course of today’s oral presentation of the report in the Security Council. May I remind the Council that, in accordance with point 7 of the Chair’s notes of 16 January, recommendations, encouragements and views of the Secretary-General should be in strict conformity with his authorities and should be addressed first and foremost to the Security Council. That is a fundamental point. I will give the Council some examples.

The mention of alleged inscriptions on the Iranian missiles simply do not coincide with the subject of the report, nor do the arguments on the impact of the launch of missiles on the situation in the Middle East. There are also questions on the recommendation of the Secretary-General regarding the preferences for some kind of form for submission of applications for the supply of materiel of nuclear and dual-use items to Iran. That is the prerogative of the Joint Committee and the Procurement Working Group.

The absence in the report of any mention of the Russian suggestion on coordination within the Security Council of a standard form for applications of arms transfers of conventional weapons to Iran under the seven categories of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms arouses genuine bewilderment. I will explain. That was an initiative of Russia put forward in the Security Council as part of an official draft note by the President. It was aimed at ensuring that States Members of the United Nations had the possibility to fully realize the potential of resolution 2231 (2015), which includes a regulatory approval system for such transfers, but does not regulate the mechanism for submission of relevant applications. But our proposal fully falls under the scope of the Secretary-General’s report, as outlined by him in paragraph 3 of the introduction. A similar form for submitting applications was agreed to for transfers to Iran of nuclear and dual-use goods and was highly in demand among potential suppliers.

We regret that some partners in the Council have refused to look at that proposal — I note, without any justification for their reluctance to strictly follow the provisions of resolution 2231 (2015). We note that the opponents of that initiative have taken a course on the free interpretation of the resolution for their own political ends. That is quite contrary to the letter and spirit of the resolution, and impedes Iran from fully exercising its rights as a State Member of the United Nations to self-defence, in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.

I would like to note that, in the course of our comments, there was also a recommendation to add to the report a reference to the possibility of cancelling of the restrictive measures ahead of schedule if the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report asserting that all nuclear material on Iranian territory was being used for peaceful nuclear activities. That wish was also ignored, as was the proposal to mention, in paragraph 2 of the introduction of the report, that the beginning of practical implementation of the Joint Plan in many ways has been possible thank to the assistance offered by Russia to Iran in fulfilling the key provision of the JCPOA, namely, reaching the established limit for enriched nuclear materials of 300 kilogrammes. I mention this because the role of European Union and the United States in the implementation of the JCPOA is mentioned in every possible way — in section II of the report, moreover, in an area where the Iranian party actually has serious claims. Such a deviation is simply improper. We hope that in the next reports our comments will be taken into account.

In conclusion, I would like to mention the report of the Security Council facilitator on the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015). On the whole, we take a positive view of the facilitator, as we do of the work of the Permanent Representative of Spain in that capacity. Nonetheless, I would like to draw the Council’s attention to a range of provisions in the report that raises some doubts.

First, the sections on weapons seizures do not reflect the scepticism of a number of Council members towards such assertions. We note with confidence that they do not set out the facts on the basis of which an impartial analysis could be conducted. In essence, we are invited to take at their word those countries that provided the reports and to share their conclusions.

Secondly, the section on the so-called 2231 list is far too verbose. We recall that the comprehensive sanctions against Iran have been repealed. It would have been possible to limit the number of physical and legal persons against whom restrictions are being maintained to a simple statistic. However, we must also note that, on the whole, the report of the facilitator is concise, factual, politically neutral and balanced. We consider that document to be a good handover for the future for the new Security Council facilitator on the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) who will replace the Spanish delegation next year.