Statement by Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy at the open VTC of UNSC members under agenda item "Non-Proliferation"
Let me thank Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Ms Rosemary DiCarlo, Head of the EU delegation Mr. Olof Skoog, and facilitator of the 2231 format, Permanent Representative of Belgium Ambassador Philippe Kridelka for their respective briefings.
The outgoing year was not easy for either of us - and not only due to the coronavirus. Ever since June 2020, the US attempts to “punish Iran” (or rather the “inconvenient” regime) at all costs have assumed a reckless and void-of-any-common-sense character. Our partners from Washington either tried to make the Security Council impose an unprecedentedly harsh arms embargo on Iran via a new resolution and without any reasonable ground, or claimed they had a right to launch a unilateral snapback on UN sanctions against Iran that had been in effect until 2015. Our American partners got tougher on Iran almost daily, trying to convince themselves and the entire world that the “policy of maximum pressure” was the only way to solve the existing problems.
All those attempts failed. Let me stress that it was the rare occasion in the Security Council when all members demonstrated exceptional like-mindedness and spoke up against them. This is a very telling story – by all means, our UNSC partners (including the JCPOA colleagues) and us have nuances in our assessments of “Iran’s file”. However all of them faded away in the face of absurd and destructive stance that the United States has articulated in the recent 6 months, thus putting itself in an opposition to all the other members of the Council.
To the Council’s credit, it did not yield to Washington’s provocation and acted as it was supposed to – it sustained commitment to the international law, to maintaining international peace and security, abiding by the letter and spirit of resolution 2231, and to common sense at large. We proudly note that throughout these 6 months the authority of the Security Council with regard to the Iran file has only increased.
Since there was no snapback, the international legal regime, enshrined in resolution 2231, persists, and the document itself keeps being implemented as per the previously agreed parameters and periods. 13 UNSC members claimed that US attempts to launch a snapback were illegitimate. The Council’s Presidents in the months of August and September unambiguously stated that they did not find themselves entitled to take any follow-up action on them. The Secretary-General clearly indicated the same position. When assuming Presidency in the Council on 1 October 2020, the Russian Federation also publicly stated that the snapback had not taken place. As recently as yesterday, Foreign Ministers of JCPOA countries drew an improvised line under this issue in their joint statement adopted after the meeting on 21 December.
These are the facts. Whether our American colleagues like them or not is another issue. But they will anyway have to accept this reality formed by collective political will of the majority of Security Council Member States. Here is another “brick” that builds the reality, so inconvenient for our US colleagues – the special regime of arms transfer to/from Iran expired on 18 October, 2020.
We regret that the process of “psychological adaptation” of our colleagues to this reality is taking too long. We see “phantom pains” in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, where during the work on draft budget for 2021 the US delegation attempts to assign financing for some sanctions committee that apparently exists only in its imagination. We hope that the major part of UNGA members will be just as reasonable as UNSC members and reject those absurd attempts.
The publication of the latest Secretary-General’s biannual report on the implementation of UNSC resolution 2231 is yet another proof of reality without a snapback. This document clearly indicates that the only state to be proving the opposite is the United States. All others think that those claims are void of any legal basis, meaning that they cannot incur any political, legal, or practical consequences. In particular, we welcome the call to support the use of procurement channel that remains a vital confidence-building measure in the context of 2231 implementation.
We are also glad to note that in his report, the Secretary-General expresses regret over US withdrawal from the JCPOA and their follow-up steps at this track; cites them as contradicting the goals of 2231. No less important is the conclusion made by the Secretary-General that steps of the US side may have a negative impact on the implementation of this resolution by other parties.
Nevertheless, the SG report cannot be considered completely well-balanced. The problem remains the same: one cannot urge one side to get back to implementing the arrangements while not calling on the other side to follow suit. Besides, we all understand that Iran going back on its obligations is a direct response to the destructive and provocative action of the United States. The Iranian side warned about the consequences in advance, as per para.26 of the JCPOA. We regret that UN leadership again lacked courage to articulate a clear call on the United States to get back to full and unconditional implementation of resolution 2231 and the JCPOA, and to revoke all steps taken in violation of those arrangements.
It is the second time that we see strikingly cynical language of UNSG report regarding the killings of Iranian representatives. In the document, there is not a word condemning these acts, not a single mentioning of their possible negative impact. Like it was the case with Qasem Soleimani, the report does not say a word of regret regarding the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and only limits itself to mentioning that he had been on sanctions lists. There is hardly another name for it but faintness of heart.
We also find it hard to explain the sudden steep increase of Secretary-General’s interest towards the activity of IAEA at Iranian track, in particular in terms of monitoring the implementation of the comprehensive safeguards agreement. Such great interest to this topic is not characteristic of previous SG reports. Besides, as we know, there was a general understanding that Vienna-specific issues are discussed in Vienna rather than in New York, which lacks relevant expertise in those matters.
As you are well aware, Russia for many years by now has been calling on the UN Secretariat to abide by its administrative-technical mandate regarding the implementation of 2231. We do not support any “investigations” conducted under its auspices, as well as any other sort of non-transparent activity of the Secretariat “behind the back” of UNSC Member States. The Secretariat simply does not have the authority to do this. We would ask our American colleagues, who pretend to be ignorant of this fact, to take note of that.
The current report highlighted futility of attempts to seek out by fair means or foul Iran’s violations of Annex B of 2231, which deals with special regime for transfer of arms to/from Iran, and of the resolution’s section on missiles. We would like to stress again in this context: attempts to portray Iran as the “source of all the region’s problems” that poses a threat to its security lack any coherent reasoning. Stop provoking the country, stop inflating the situation around it, and the problems in the region will grow fewer.
We thank Belgian facilitator for his efforts organizing the work of 2231 format. Your tenure coincided with a very restless period; however, Belgian diplomacy put its best effort to it and responsibly approached its duties as facilitator, who is in charge of the format’s purely factual accounts. We know that the current report of the facilitator was a hard won compromise. We cannot say that its final version is totally well-balanced. To achieve this, the report needs to have a more complete and equitable reflection of Tehran’s position. Hopefully, the incoming facilitator will take note of these drawbacks, stick to the “fair brokerage” approach and provide the sides with equal space to present their opinions in report.
In Russia, we have a saying: “It is easier to pull down than build up”. Over these 6 months we have seen with our own eyes how fragile the balance that the 2015 nuclear deal rests upon. So far, we have managed to keep it with our joint efforts. We would very much like to hope that the American side would ultimately draw the right conclusions from everything that has happened. No one asked the US to assume the role of a “global policeman”. Any attempts to fit in this role today look anachronistic. So does the irresponsible and presumptuous policy of unilateral pressure that will ultimately hit its own initiator. That is why the most logical thing to do for the United States would be to return to the previous agreements within the JCPOA to the fullest extent and without making any pre-conditions. We count on the new US Administration to realize this and take the right steps in the near time. The whole world will benefit from it.
We also give credit to claims made by Iran’s leadership that they be ready to return to full implementation of the JCPOA expeditiously as soon as the US does the same.
By all means, we should not perceive the situation in the Persian Gulf only from the JCPOA perspective. We need steps that would build trust in the region, prevent crises and mitigate risks of armed confrontation. Fully understanding this, Russia promotes the idea of regional dialogue on security issues in the Gulf. In October 2020, UNSC convened a special open session on this topic under Russian Presidency, where we could make sure that almost all stakeholders send signals about the need to look for real ways of stabilization in the region. Let me stress once again that issues of regional security build a separate aspect that goes beyond the situation around the JCPOA, but nonetheless remains very important. We hope we will be able to follow up on this matter soon and focus on concrete solutions rather than speak in generic terms. We believe the Persian Gulf region has reached a point where all the interested sides can engage in a pragmatic and reasonable discussion. For our part, we are ready to do our best to have this dialogue launched as soon as possible.
I would like to avail of this opportunity to thank the delegations of all five Member States that are leaving the Council on 1 January for the joint work that we have had. We appreciate your valuable contributions to the activity of subsidiary bodies under your lead. It is a pity we could not get together in person on this occasion, which was definitely worth it. Good luck to you, colleagues, in all your endeavors. Let us now cooperate in the General Assembly and other UN bodies.
In response to the representative of Germany:
I have to take the floor again, even though I was not planning to, in order to respond to the words of my German colleague Christoph Heusgen. Over his time in the Council he seems to have become sort of addicted to criticizing Russia at every meeting – even when the announced topic is not good for this. I hope this unhealthy symptom will heal after 1 January 2021.
Christoph, several minutes ago you made a misplaced reference to the situation with blogger A.Navalny and recommended that we should read the recent publications of Der Spiegel. We do read the press, however we do not tend to take journalists’ assertions for the ultimate truth, especially when they refer to the sources that have been long known to be a kind of a journalist division of Western secret services. We only trust facts that raise no doubt. In this case, the absurdness of allegations made by those journalists defies all limits. It is even a little embarrassing that you, a politician and diplomat with a reputation of an earnest, albeit very emotional person, promote such low-quality incompetent nonsense. Apparently, many years of reading the New York Times have their bearing: not every conscience can withstand such a great pressure of fake news. We warned you against it though.
As for the so-called Navalny poisoning, let me remind our German colleagues that numerous concrete questions that we addressed to the German side remain unanswered, same as five official requests for legal assistance that our General Prosecutor’s Office submitted to you. Unless this is done, any claims that Germany addresses this episode responsibly simply look laughable. Please bear this in mind when you chime in to Mr.Navalny’s further phantasmagoric revelations. Sooner or later time will come to account for this libel campaign that Berlin started upon his initiative.
Dear Christoph, I would like to say goodbye to you with a phrase authored by writer Mikhail Zhvanetsky who, unfortunately, recently passed away: “It is a pity you are leaving at last. We will truly miss you. Whatever area you choose next – we wish you good luck and every success there.
Thank you. .