Remarks to the press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia following UNSC meeting on threats posed to the integrity of the UN Charter
Vassily Nebenzia: You saw it all. The question was not on the investigation itself, but on its legality. The question was who is supposed to give a mandate for such an investigation. It clearly follows from [resolution] 2231 and the Presidential Note on the implementation of this resolution that it is the Security Council which is entitled and obliged to give a “green light” to any investigation into alleged violations of 2231. That was point 1.
Point 2 is that we posed a direct question to the Legal Counsel. We asked how the UN interprets this situation. Unfortunately, we have not heard the reply, and we intend to send a letter to the Secretary-General requesting him to answer to our inquiry.
Thirdly, I was a bit astonished that our colleagues were basically justifying the illegal practice that they are willing to engage in by referring to the previous illegal practices of 2231 contact point in terms of conducting investigations. As you know, 2231 contact point is neither a group of experts nor a sanctions committee, but a part of the Secretariat. And that brings us back to the question who is entitled to carry out investigations and who is entitled to give approval so such an investigation can start.
Q: The UN lawyer said that absent any new guidance from the Security Council they will continue to prepare the reports as they did previously. Do you feel like this meeting backfired on you a little bit?
A: Why? The report is a semi-annual event. The current situation and the discussion we had has nothing to do with the report itself, which is a regular thing. The report may reflect that this request was made but the decision as to how to proceed with this request can only be made by the Security Council.
Q: In terms of the possible investigation into the drones that were allegedly used by Russia in Ukraine. The Legal Counsel did not say anything to note. But does that mean that your threat to withdraw cooperation if the Secretary-General does decide to launch the investigation…
A: I would not link these things. We will seek clarification from the Secretary-General on our request. And then we will see how the Secretariat will react.
Q: In terms of withdrawing cooperation Your Deputy Ambassador said the other day that …
A: Not just my Deputy. I said that in my statement.
Q: Yes, you are still threatening to withdraw cooperation. What would that actually mean?
A: I would not call it “threatening to withdraw”, but of course we will have to view our cooperation in light of the reaction of the Secretariat to our legitimate concerns.
Q: Ambassador, a question on the grain deal. Martin Griffiths said that he is relatively optimistic that it will get renewed, extended for a longer period – possibly expanded. What can you tell us about the negotiations?
A: I am happy that Martin is relatively optimistic, but we will still have to see the implementation of the second part of the deal before any decisions are made.
Q: Can you explain a little bit what Russia exactly needs to see?
A: Russia needs to see the exports of its grain and fertilizers to the world’s market. It has not happened since the beginning of the deal.
Q: What’s the main hurdle to that?
A: I think I have been saying that for a long time. The hurdles remain the same: insurance, transactions, ports of call for our ships. Those are the main three. There are fertilizers that have been arrested in European ports which were meant to be distributed free of charge in the countries in need. But the fertilizers are kept there and they are sort of getting slowly destroyed because this kind of fertilizers cannot be kept [in storage] indefinitely if not put to use. Those were the main things that were on the agenda a few months ago, and they still remain.
We recognize that the Secretary-General and his team are trying to do their best to resolve those issues, but unfortunately, it is not just them that it depends on. And the issue is still there.
Q: What are you expecting from tomorrow’s meeting? Will the IAEA Director be addressing the Council at an open meeting?
A: I am not sure if it will be an open meeting, but I know that Director-General Grossi will be here to brief us.
Q: What’s the point of your meeting on biological weapons? Just give us a clue what this is about.
A: This will continue what happened earlier this year. We accumulated a lot of data to that end. You know that we had a meeting in Geneva within the scope of the Biological Convention. I think it is the high time we started the investigation which is provided for in the articles of the convention.
Q: But it’s not like a dirty bomb… Your made a claim that Ukraine was about to use a dirty bomb potentially. Do you believe they are about to use a biological weapon?
A: That is not exactly about that. It is about the Biological Convention as such. And of course the role of the US in biological programs in Ukraine
Q: If Russia withdraws from the grain deal, how are you going to get your ammonia out without any UN help?
A: So far the UN help was not so helpful. We did not get our ammonia out with or without UN.
Q: A lot of countries are concerned that North Korea might again be on the edge of conducting its 7th nuclear test. Does Russia have any concerns if this is about to happen? If so, what should the Council do?
A: Let’s solve problems as they arrive. I would not speculate before anything happens. But of course, these prospects are not very welcome.
Q: Should there be new sanctions if it happens?
A: Let’s not replace and substitute for the Security Council.
Q: What’s the point of sending a letter in 310 pages to the members of the Security Council?
A: That’s the body of evidence that we have on our claims on the violations of the Biological Convention.
Q: Who prepared this?
A: Competent agencies.
Thank you very much.