Iran silent on queries about its military activities

Gary Quinlan (second from left), Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of September, briefs members in his capacity as Chairman of the Council’s 1737 Sanctions Committee on Iran. 05 September 2013 United Nations, New York Photo # 560237Iran had remained silent to inquiries about its ballistic missile launches and an intercepted arms shipment, the Chair of the Security Council Committee charged with monitoring sanctions on that country said today. Chair Gary Quinlan (Australia) provided the Council with an update on the Committee’s activities from 16 July to 5 September, saying he had had an opportunity last month to raise the matter directly with Iran’s Permanent Representative, but “unfortunately”, the latter had failed to indicate whether an answer would be forthcoming.

In his previous briefing to the Council, he recalled, the Committee’s Panel of Experts had concluded unanimously that Iran’s launches of its Shahab 1 and 3 missiles during the Great Prophet 7 exercises had contravened paragraph 9 of Council resolution 1929 (2010).  He also noted that another report of the Panel had concluded that an intercepted arms shipment was “a probable violation” of paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007) at the very least.

In both cases, he continued, the Committee had sent letters requesting Iran to respond, but it had not received any responses to date.  As for the Panel’s proposal to impose additional measures on Iran, the Committee continued to consider practical steps to implement the recommendations, but had not approved any of them.

Following the briefing, several Council members expressed disappointment that none of the Panel’s recommendations had been adopted, while others stressed that the Committee must act impartially and objectively, on the basis of verified information.  France’s representative said that Iran had chosen to march on “a path of defiance rather than dialogue”, while the delegate of the Russian Federation stressed that there was no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement.  Unilateral sanctions had undermined international collective action, he cautioned.

Most Council members expressed expectations of progress in resumed negotiations between the new Iranian Administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while others called for the resumption of talks between Iran and the five permanent Council members and Germany, or “P5+1”.

Other speakers today were representatives of the United States, China, Argentina, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan, United Kingdom, Togo, Morocco and Rwanda.

The meeting began at 3:08 p.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.


Meeting to consider non-proliferation, the Security Council was expected to hear a briefing by the Chairman of its 1737 Committee, established to implement Council resolution 1737 (2006) on Iran’s nuclear activities.


GARY QUINLAN ( Australia), Committee Chair, said that during the reporting period, 16 July to 5 September, the body had held two informal meetings.  On 9 August, it had adopted its programme of work for the period 1 July to 31 December, and members had continued to consider the recommendations made by its Panel of Experts.  The Committee had made progress in reviewing the recommendations and considering practical steps to implement them.  To date, however, it had approved none of those recommendations.

He reported that the Special Representative of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) had briefed the Committee on 25 July on its cooperation with other sanctions committees.  The Committee was now debating whether it should sign an agreement with that body on the application of “special notices” to disseminate information to Member States about the Council’s targeted sanctions list.  Some Committee members did not favour an agreement, he noted.

The Committee, he said, continued to discuss whether and how to respond to the Panel’s compilation of publicly available statements by Iranian officials and by alleged recipients of Iranian military assistance, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbullah, regarding potential violations of paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007).  The Panel had included quotes from officials who had spoken of transfers from Iran prohibited by that paragraph.  The Panel had also provided information additional to the compilation of public statements about arms transfers from Iran to Gaza.  The Committee was studying that information carefully, he said.  On two environmental claims by Iran, he said, the Committee had responded to the United Nations Compensation Committee on 24 July that the release of funds for that purpose was not prohibited by the resolutions.

Turning to the Panel’s unanimous conclusion that Iran’s launches of the Shahab 1 and 3 missiles during the Great Prophet 7 exercises contravened paragraph 9 of resolution 1929 (2010), the Chairman noted that several Committee members continued to express the view that the launches constituted a clear violation of that text, and that all Members States should therefore redouble their efforts to implement ballistic missile-related sanctions on Iran.  Some Committee members had been unable to share that view, and Iran had still not responded to the Committee’s letter of 12 April on the matter, he reported.

He said he had had an opportunity to raise the matter directly with Iran’s Permanent Representative, on 1 August, but unfortunately, the latter had not indicated whether an answer would be forthcoming.  On the Committee’s letter of 21 May, which sought Iran’s comment on another Panel report, he had concluded that an intercepted arms shipment was “a probable violation” by Iran of paragraph 5 of resolution 1747 (2007) at the very least.  Again, Iran’s Permanent Representative had not advised as to his delegation’s intention to reply, and to date it had not done so.

The Committee would continue to consider options for action in response to each of those incidents, he said, adding that it would provide an update in its next 90-day report to the Council.  The Committee continued to receive information from States on national actions to implement the relevant Security Council measures, and encouraged all Member States to transmit relevant information.  Through the Focal Point for delisting, it had received additional information from the First East Export Bank, an entity currently on the Committee’s Consolidated List and whose request for delisting was on its agenda.


SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said Hassan Rouhani’s election had appeared to offer the chance of a solution to global concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions, but there had been no positive developments.  Rather, recent developments were “troubling”.  The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General had said that Iran’s nuclear programme continued to “march forward”, while the country was unwilling to cooperate.  Instead of conforming to the Security Council’s demands, Iran was installing new centrifuges, increasing its enriched uranium stockpiles and improving its reactor at Arak.

Urging Iran to approach upcoming negotiations with the IAEA in a transparent and cooperative manner, she said that the 1737 Committee needed to keep pace with the threat posed by Iran.  That meant improving sanctions implementation, notably by fulfilling the recommendations of the Panel of Experts and by signing an agreement with Interpol to help with sanctions imposed on individuals.  Better responses to violations like the recent ballistic missile launches and arms smuggling were needed.  The United States remained faithful to diplomacy, and would be a willing negotiator if Iran was too, she said, emphasizing, however, that until Iran met its obligations, the Committee would remain vital.

WANG MIN (China) said sanctions were not the fundamental objective of resolution 1737 (2006), adding that the Committee and its Panel of Experts should help parties to build dialogue.  On individual cases, he said the work was especially sensitive and decisions must be based on the merits of a case and be made objectively and cautiously.  The only correct and viable path was to find a negotiated solution.  China opposed the use, or threat of the use of force, as well as exerting excessive pressure on Iran, particularly in the current complicated regional context.  Negotiation remained extremely important to peace and stability in the Middle East, he emphasized, encouraging IAEA and Iran to work together.

MARIO OYARZÁBAL (Argentina) stressed that his delegation was historically committed to non-proliferation and supported the relevant regime and treaty.  It also upheld the inalienable rights of all States parties to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Argentina agreed with the 28 August IAEA report on the lack of progress on outstanding issues with Iran.  The latter should cooperate and provide all necessary information in addition to granting access to nuclear development sites for verification.  It should also adopt the necessary measures to implement relevant Security Council resolutions so that it could gain the international community’s trust in its nuclear programmes.

PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) noted that Iran persisted in its refusal to cooperate with the international community, as evidenced by such incidents as its launches of ballistic missiles and its repeated violations of arms embargos in the Middle East, a region already facing instability.  It was alarming that the arms shipped from Iran and seized in Yemen last February had been found to have the capacity to undermine the political process in Yemen.  Cases of military support for Syria involving Iranian agents had also been studied.  Regarding the missile launches, the Panel had investigated the incident and concluded that it constituted a clear violation of Council resolution 1929 (2010), he said.  Iran had never responded to letters seeking comment, and had also refused to cooperate with IAEA.  It continued on “a path of defiance rather than dialogue”, he said, emphasizing that the new Iranian Government’s declaration of transparency must be translated into deeds.

KHALIL UR RAHMAN HASHMI (Pakistan) expressed hope for resumed diplomatic engagement, calling for political will and flexibility from all concerned, as well as for confidence-building measures.  A balance between sanctions and negotiations was needed.  Iran was a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and was entitled to rights in line with that instrument, but also subject to obligations.  He called on the Panel of Experts to act in strict conformity with its mandate, remaining objective, impartial and backed by evidence.  The Panel’s recent report would be weightier if there was consensus behind it, he said.  The Committee must also meet high standards to ensure that sanctions were not an end in themselves and that legitimate trade activity was not impacted.  He called for the recruitment of more Expert Panel members from developing countries, with all Council members being consulted before any appointments were made.

KIM SOOK (Republic of Korea) expressed hope that Iran’s new Government would take credible actions to recover international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programmes.  It was regrettable that the Committee had not received any responses from Iran to its letters of April and May concerning pending issues, such as the July 2012 ballistic missile launches, the transfer of arms to Yemen, and military support for the Gaza Strip.  While calling on Iran to cooperate by responding in a prompt and sincere manner, he emphasized that the Committee must not await such responses indefinitely and should discuss ways to move forward.  “The Committee’s inaction on violations will undermine the authority and credibility of this Council,” he said, adding that it should properly implement the Expert Panel’s recommendations, which were effective counter-measures against Iran’s illicit activities to evade sanctions and make prohibited procurements.  He encouraged the Committee to expand cooperation with other United Nations entities and international institutions such as INTERPOL.

JOSÉ ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIÉRREZ (Guatemala) said she supported the recommendations proposed by the Panel of Experts in May 2013, and urged members to reach consensus on the recommendations in upcoming meetings.  Although she supported action by the Committee and the Panel of Experts to investigate sanctions violations, she expressed reservations about agreeing to sanctions on the sole basis of comments by Iranian officials reported in the press.  There was a need to analyse carefully the veracity of media reports through exhaustive investigation by the Panel, she stressed.  Taking note of the IAEA Director General’s concerns, she said Iran was not cooperating and issues, particularly the military dimension of the nuclear programme, remained unresolved.  Urging Iran to adopt the safeguards agreement and other obligations, she said the country could send a signal of good faith by engaging in real and concrete discussions with the Agency.

SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) said he recognized the Committee’s hard work, but it has made little progress on many cases.  Regrettably, it had adopted none of the Expert Panel’s balanced recommendations, he said, adding that by implementing them, it could remain operational.  Regarding the missile launches in violation of paragraph 9 of resolution 1929 (2010), the time had come for the Committee to act in order to remain credible.  Concerned about arms shipments to the Middle East, she sought clarification from the Iranian authorities about deliveries to Gaza.  Luxembourg supported the signing of an agreement with INTERPOL to adopt its “special notices”, which had been successful, he said, pointing out that almost all other sanctions committees used them.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan) welcomed the Committee’s adoption of its programme of work for the second half of 2013, noting that it continued to receive information from Member States that were vital to the implementation of the relevant Council resolutions on Iran.  He acknowledged the progress made in reviewing the Panel’s recommendations, but noted that none of them had been approved by the Committee.  As for the report of the IAEA Board of Governors, he said Iran could build international confidence in its nuclear programmes by cooperating with the Agency.  In that regard, Azerbaijan looked forward to a new round of talks between the two sides, starting on 27 September.

PETER WILSON ( United Kingdom) remained deeply concerned by Iran’s nuclear programme, particularly with the latest IAEA report highlighting the installation of about 1,000 centrifuges.  There was no plausible civilian purpose for the number already possessed, let alone the number planned.  Additionally, Iran had refused to address questions over the military dimension of its nuclear programme, he said, adding that the country’s new President could pursue a different course and the international community would respond in good faith if he did.  However, Iran remained in breach of its obligations, with its ballistic missile launch in violation of resolution 1929 (2010), and the Committee Chair’s efforts at engagement spurned.  A response was needed to the violation of sanctions and the Expert Panel’s six “uncontroversial” recommendations needed implementation, he emphasized.  The individuals and entities responsible for continued arms exports and efforts to destabilize the Middle East must be identified and the Committee must fulfil its mandate to take action against them.

KOFFI AFANDE (Togo) noted some progress in Iran’s engagement with the monitoring of its nuclear programme.  However, the list of obligations was a lot longer and IAEA’s most recent report highlighted activities that contravened the safeguards agreement on enrichment at Natanz and Fordo.  At the latter site, Iran needed to accede to the Agency’s demands for information on new enrichment facilities and to cooperate fully with inspectors.  Welcoming President Rouhani’s urgency with regard to the P5+1, he said cooperation between the Committee and INTERPOL was not bad in itself, and Togo also supported investigations by the Panel of Experts into military assistance provided by Iran to non-State armed groups.
ALEXANDER A. PANKIN (Russian Federation) said the Committee should act impartially and objectively, and acknowledge the useful support it enjoyed from the Panel of Experts.  Urging Panel members to act under the Committee’s guidance, he underscored the importance of making assessments and conclusions based on verified information.  Turning to the subject of negotiations, he expressed hope that the talks would resume under the new Iranian President.  There was no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement, he stressed, noting that effective collective international actions to resolve outstanding issues had been undermined by unilateral sanctions, which were often extraterritorial in nature and categorically unacceptable under international law.

BOUCHAIB EL OUMNI (Morocco) noted that the Committee continued to examine the recommendations made by the Panel of Experts.  It should continue its efforts in order to arrive at consensual conclusions.  The Committee should act impartially and professionally, he added.  Turning to information provided by Member States, he said it was vital to implement relevant Security Council resolutions.  On the IAEA report, he noted that its executive summary stated that no agreement had been reached on a structured approach with regard to the military dimension of Iran’s nuclear programmes.  Stressing the right to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful means, he emphasized that the “balance between rights and obligations must be respected”.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda), while stressing the right of States to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, said he was concerned by the recent IAEA report which said Iran had shown no willingness to cease its nuclear programme.  Rwanda hoped new talks would strengthen cooperation and build confidence, but regretted that Iran was yet to collaborate with the 1737 Committee, having failed to reply to letters about the launch of its Shahab 1 and Shahab 3 ballistic missiles and about the seizure of a ship in violation of the arms embargo.  Given the current levels of tension in the Middle East, it would be prudent to refrain from taking further action against Iran, he said, calling for engagement with the new leadership.  He also called on Iran to show its own willingness and openness by allowing the Committee to fulfil its mandate.