Statement by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing under agenda item "Non-proliferation"
We thank Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, Head of the EU delegation Skoog, and facilitator of Format 2231 and Permanent Representative of Ireland Ambassador Byrne Nason for their briefings.
We note the efforts of the Irish side ensuring successful coordination of Format 2231, and high professionalism of the Irish team. This professionalism was confirmed when a six-month report of the Facilitator was adopted by consensus.
At the same time, unlike the report, today’s statement of the Facilitator was not agreed by consensus in Format 2231, and we have questions to some of its points. Unfortunately, it somewhat affected the overall positive impression from Ireland’s work as Facilitator. We hope that in future, facilitators of Format 2231 will return to the practice of having their statements adopted by consensus of all UNSC members.
Back in the day, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was endorsed thanks to professional diplomacy, that i.a. envisages readiness to account for each other’s interests and demonstrate reasonable flexibility in order to reach a compromise. It marked a key achievement of modern multilateral diplomacy. The importance of the deal for the region and the whole world can hardly be overestimated. It signified that despite some fundamental difference in positions, the sides were still able to strike an agreement.
Unfortunately, this precious balance was disrupted in 2018, when the United States withdrew from the deal unilaterally and then took multiple steps to shatter the JCPOA and bar other parties from upholding it to fullest extent. First of all, I mean the illegitimate unilateral sanctions, both direct and indirect, that the United States imposed. Let me underscore that the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran that the United States has not dropped until this day, is the root cause of all current trouble around the JCPOA. All Iran’s steps that followed were but a reaction to the US destructive stance rather than Tehran’s arbitrary deviation from its obligations. We assume that some progressive steps of the United States towards resuming its full compliance with relevant JCPOA obligations may encourage Iran to move forward with some of the obligations that were previously put on hold.
We regret that the SG report fails to articulate this cause-and-effect nexus clearly, and not for the first time already. Besides, the report puts “on equal footing” calls to the US to lift restrictions and calls to decide on the exemptions. When we speak of recovering the JCPOA, it is not about exemptions, but about full, constant, and verifiable cancellation of the illegitimate discriminatory measures that the United States imposed on Iran in violation of UNSC resolution 2231.
We welcome that the SG report confirms the role of the JCPOA as the most effective tool for strengthening the non-proliferation regime and regional security. We agree that the path to lasting peace and security goes through diplomacy. The report states that at the talks in Vienna, the United States and the current participants of the JCPOA including Iran proved committed to resolving all political and technical contradictions. We trust that this trend will persist. We support the call of the Secretary-General to all sides to remain flexible in the interests of reaching a compromise.
At the same time, we must point out that the report does not mention the important role of the JCPOA Joint Commission, the decisions of which are called to ensure and monitor implementation of negotiated measures.
Also, some clarification is needed for Secretary-General’s point that the lack of progress with the reset of the JCPOA will undermine confidence in ability of the Plan to ensure a peaceful character of Iran’s nuclear program. We remind that the key role in this context is played by Iran’s implementation of the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. As for the JCPOA, it contributed to ensuring transparency of nuclear activities in Iran.
Russia, like a number of other states, voted against the resolution of the Board of Governors that a group of Western states initiated at the beginning of June. We believe this initiative untimely, politicized, and contradicting the efforts made at the negotiations track with a view to recover the JCPOA. All issues that it touches upon have a retrospective character and pose no proliferation-related risks. I remind that since 2015, Iran has remained the most verifiable of all IAEA members.
We remain gravely concerned over the illegitimate practice of the UN Secretariat to carry out some “investigations” as part of resolution 2231. We strongly oppose such activities by the Secretariat. In the context of resolution 2231, the Secretariat’s mandate is purely technical and administrative, which is stipulated in UNSC President’s Note S/2016/44 dated 16 January 2016. The Secretariat is not authorized to file any information requests with member states or react to such requests, to say nothing of organizing “inspections on the ground”. Team 2231 is not a sanctions committee and therefore does not hold relevant expertise. We proceed from the understanding that an SG report should not contain conclusions based on hearsay coming from the Secretariat staff or information from unidentified or unverified sources.
We repeatedly pointed out that Iran strictly observes all “missile provisions” of resolution 2231. By this point, the Council has not received any credible proof of the opposite. We regret that some states keep making unsubstantiated allegations against Tehran’s missile program while using the same logic that we have repeatedly refuted.
There is still no alternative to the JCPOA. It is our duty to reanimate and safeguard this deal. Russia fully supports the negotiation process, where efforts are made to steer the implementation of the JCPOA back into the previously established framework. As we have been saying from the very start, this “way back” to the JCPOA will not be an easy one, because such things are always easier destroyed than built. It is reassuring that the work on a recovery package has entered an advanced phase. We see no unsurmountable obstacles to recovery of the JCPOA. Now we are amidst a very important and responsible, yet fragile stage. Attempts to build up pressure on Iran and spiral up tension around the JCPOA can derail all prospects for recovery of the deal. We call on the sides to act in a strategically reserved manner, adopt a pragmatic stance and commitment to compromise. In this case, mutually acceptable solutions will definitely be found.