Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at an open VTC of UNSC members under agenda item “Non-Proliferation”
We welcome the participation of the Secretary-General in today’s meeting. I particularly welcome Minister Zarif, who is with us now. I would welcome the participation of the Secretary of State, but he is no longer with us. I understand that he has a very busy schedule, but we regret that he did not choose to listen to the Council Members, at least some of them. But more than that we regret that in his statement we (at least I myself) did not hear a single word “dialogue” or “cooperation”.
I would like to thank Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo for presenting the report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/531) on the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2231. We also welcome the contribution of the Permanent Representative of Belgium as Security Council Facilitator to its implementation. We highly appreciate his efforts to uphold the unity of the Security Council Members and to this end negotiate a consensus Facilitator’s report, even though it has not been approved.
To our deep regret, the world of multilateralism and order, where the principle «Pacta sunt servanda» used to be respected through centuries, is at a risk. The US policy of unilateral actions disregards both common sense and the opinions of other states. We’ve been watching with grave concern the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran which is better characterized as a “maximum suffocation” policy. Iran is being deliberately squeezed from all directions. The task is to achieve “regime change” or create a situation where Iran literally wouldn’t be able to breathe. This is like putting a knee on one’s neck.
The responsibility for the current crisis belongs to the US. Two years ago it intentionally started to undermine the carefully-balanced and calibrated agreement of 2015 which, both the resolution 2231 and the JCPOA, constituted an inseparable package deal. Despite the fact that SC resolutions are part of international law and must be implemented by all Member States, the US officially pulled out from its resolution 2231 and JCPOA obligations, closed the door behind and engaged in unilateral pressure by re-imposing and reinforcing national sanctions against Iran, which are contrary to the aims of both the JCPOA and the resolution 2231. Such actions eliminate any incentives for Tehran to comply with their provisions. Still Iran continued to uphold its obligations under JCPOA. On top of it, the US, being a major violator, has been threatening other countries with unilateral sanctions for the implementation of resolution 2231 which, as I said, is not an option, but an obligation of Member States.
The road to JCPOA was very bumpy. Everybody was making concessions to achieve this carefully calibrated deal, including first and foremost Iran itself. The whole world was celebrating this unique achievement and a system of checks and balances of which temporary arms embargo (arms restrictions) on Iran was only one element. It was introduced with clear and unequivocal understanding that it will expire on October 18, 2020, provided Iran sticks to its obligations under the JCPOA. And Iran honored its commitments despite two years of continued US threats and sanctions.
But today we see the US appeals to the authority of the Security Council to “demonstrate unity of vision” and adopt a new arms embargo resolution against Iran. We explained in detail our position in this regard in the letter of Minister Sergey Lavrov to the President of the Security Council of 27 May 2020, which was distributed in the Council. We cannot accept an attempt to get a “blessing” for the US-designed “maximum pressure” policy through the Security Council and to legitimize it. We have a special mandate and responsibility here to protect the legitimate interests of all states and maintain international peace and security.
The logic of the US draft that was presented is to impose a full-scale blockade of Iran by all means possible. It is obvious that the ultimate goal is to antagonize Iran and push it to radical retaliation, which will become an invitation for further sanctions. What we get in the end is an uncontrollable escalation, a destabilized region and lasting implications for international peace and security. Is this the “remedy” to resolve the current crisis we are looking for?
Making Iran a scapegoat for everything that is happening in the region is a seemingly easy approach. But simplifying things, coming to easy, but questionable and arguable conclusions, to which, I think, we all are unfortunately accustomed, is not a magic solution to the problems the region is facing. Moreover this simplistic approach does not bring us closer to solutions. It only complicates problems.
We would like to reiterate that there are neither legal, nor other grounds to raise the issue of arms embargo in the Security Council. The approval-based procedures for transfer of armaments to and from Iran have been designed as temporary measure, and their extension after 18 October 2020 has never been either envisaged, or discussed. Given all this, it would be at least naive to suggest that there can be room for engaging the Security Council on this issue.
Bryan Hook, the US Special Representative on Iran, chose to accuse Russia and China of engaging in anti-utopia in our positions on Iran. I don’t know what prompted him to come to such escapades and what exactly he meant by this. May be he has just finished reading George Orwell or Ray Bradbury, or Aldous Huxley, or some Russian anti-utopia writers, which we have plenty by the way. But if we take it as a statement, then I’m compelled to say that Russia, in particular, is engaging in anti-utopia because US is engaging in utopia. We said from Day 1 that the US draft on Iran’s embargo is a utopia. It will not fly. It is not a basis for any negotiations.
During these two years the US was trying in vain to prove to us that Iran was violating its commitments under the JCPOA. In fact the only moves that Iran was making were aimed to show its frustration with US provocative actions, but even those moves, strictly speaking, didn’t violate the JCPOA.
In this regard we would like to express our profound disappointment with the 9th report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231. It clearly fails to meet the high standards of impartiality that are expected to be observed in such documents. The Secretariat has never been mandated with “investigative” tasks, including “at invitation” of individual states. The Security Council has been effectively kept in the dark about its activities, being faced and presented with ready-made judgments. The group that conducted those investigations has neither retributive nor prosecutorial mandates, but today we hear statements from our fellow UNSC members in the spirit of “almost certainly” or “highly likely” as if we operated not with allegations, but with established facts. We regret to see that as a result of these amateur inspections, the report suffers from a chronic lack of evidence. Final “assessments” of the Iran’s involvement in the activities in violation of the SC resolution 2231 are baseless and biased. It is unfortunate that in these turbulent times this document fuels the tensions rather than contributes to their solution.
While addressing the issue we are discussing we must not forget about a broader picture. Today we eyewitness spiraling escalation in the Persian Gulf, jeopardizing peace and security in the region as well as the international efforts to settle conflicts there. We believe that there is a viable alternative to it. There should be a comprehensive strategic solution, which could help build trust, bring stability, transparency and predictability among regional players. The ultimate goal is to establish a genuinely inclusive security architecture that reflects the legitimate concerns of all countries of the region. Regional confidence-building measures could be instrumental in this regard. Our concept for security architecture in the Persian Gulf under international guarantees remains relevant. Russia is also ready to support similar initiatives by working with our regional partners and all interested parties.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that Russia is fully committed to the unconditional implementation of its obligations under the Security Council resolution 2231 and the JCPOA. We call on all Member States to make every effort to preserve the JCPOA. We will continue to pursue and encourage dialogue aimed at finding compromises, with a balance of interests at its core. Such measures could be taken on all levels of political communication. Russia together with other responsible members of international community will spare no effort to bring the current situation back under control.