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  • Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefs the Council. The Security Council met to consider the implementation of its resolution 2231 (2015) on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.
Security Council Considers Implementation of Resolution on Iran Nuclear Deal. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Security Council Briefing on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman

Mr. President, Members of the Security Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Almost two years after Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we are at a critical crossroads.  Today’s meeting is an important opportunity to reflect carefully on what has been achieved and the challenges that lay ahead. Since 16 January 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported to this Council nine times that Iran is continuing to adhere to its nuclear-related commitments.

Against this positive story of JCPOA implementation, on 13 October, the President of the United States decided not to certify to Congress that the suspension of its national sanctions pursuant to the agreement is "appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by the Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program"[1].  This decision has regrettably created considerable uncertainty about the future of the JCPOA.  The Secretary-General is reassured that the United States, during the recent 7th meeting of the Joint Commission, together with other participants, expressed its continued adherence to its commitments and stressed the need to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement in all its parts in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere.

The support of this Security Council for the agreement is vital to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as regional and international stability.  The agreement is in the interest of the global non-proliferation regime, and of regional and international peace and security. It is also the best way to realize the aspirations of the Iranian people through an opportunity for greater economic engagement with the world.  The international community will be following carefully what the participants to the agreement, and this Council, will do in the coming months and years – and will certainly calibrate its own actions accordingly. 

For these reasons, the Secretary-General encourages the United States to maintain its commitment to the agreement and to consider the broader implications for the region and beyond before taking any further steps.  Similarly, he encourages the Islamic Republic of Iran to carefully consider the concerns raised by other JCPOA participants.  The Secretary-General also encourages the international community to continue to support the full implementation of this historic agreement and welcomes the affirmative statements by numerous other Member States in support of the Plan.

Mr. President,  

Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the Fourth Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/2017/515).  This report was submitted to the Council on 8 December 2017 pursuant to annex B to resolution 2231 (2015) and the Note by the President of the Council issued on 16 January 2016 (S/2016/44). 

As guided by the Security Council, the report of the Secretary-General focuses on the implementation of the provisions contained in annex B to resolution 2231 (2015).   I now turn to the main findings of the fourth report. 

First, the Secretary-General has again not received any report regarding the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of nuclear-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of the resolution. Meanwhile, Member States are making greater use of the procurement channel.  Eight additional nuclear-related proposals were submitted to the Security Council for approval, bringing to 24 the total number of proposals submitted since Implementation Day.  These proposals were processed in accordance with the timelines established by resolution 2231 (2015), with due regard for information security and confidentiality.   I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge once again the excellent cooperation we have with the European External Action Service, especially its Coordinator of the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission.

Second, regarding the implementation of ballistic missile-related provisions, the report reflects official information provided by Member States on the launch of the Simorgh Space Launch Vehicle in July 2017 by the Islamic Republic of Iran and on several ballistic missile launches by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In October and November, the Secretariat was requested to travel twice to Saudi Arabia to examine the debris of the ballistic missiles launched at Yanbu and Riyadh on 22 July and 4 November 2017, respectively.  Saudi authorities assessed that Iran had a role in manufacturing these missiles used in the July and November attacks.  We take note of the information presented in the recent press conference by Ambassador Haley on 14 December and Iranian statement(s) in response. At this time, the Secretariat is not yet in a position to confirm whether those missiles were Iranian Qiam-1 missiles (a variant of the Scud missile) transferred contrary to resolution 2231 (2015), as assessed by Saudi authorities.   However, the report contained preliminary observations indicating that (1) the two missiles had similar features which suggested a common origin; (2) the missiles contained features that are consistent with missiles of the Scud family; (3) the missiles also had features known to be consistent with the Qiam-1 missile; and (4) one of the missile bore castings similar to that of an Iranian entity on the list maintained pursuant to resolution 2231 (2015).  The Secretariat is still analysing the information available and will report to the Council in due course.  The Secretariat recommended a joint meeting of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014) and of the “2231 format” to be jointly briefed by the Panel of Experts on Yemen and the Secretariat on their respective findings at the appropriate time.  It is important that the Security Council is able to consider this issue holistically, and coherently, on the basis of all the information available to it.

Third, in terms of restrictions on arms-related transfers, the Secretariat was requested to examine the arms and related materiel seized by the United States in March 2016.  The Secretariat also received information on an unmanned surface vessel (USV) laden with explosives allegedly used against the Saudi-led coalition and had the opportunity to examine parts of its guidance and detonation systems.  The Secretariat was also requested to examine two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), reportedly recovered in Yemen after Implementation Day.

The Secretariat is confident that close to 900 of the assault rifles seized by the United States are identical to those seized by France also in March 2016, which the Secretariat had assessed were of Iranian origin and shipped from the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The Secretariat is also confident that half of the 200 rocket propelled grenade launchers had characteristics similar to Iranian-produced RPG launchers.  We are still analysing the remaining weapons found in the shipment and will report back in due course.

The Secretariat could also observe that the guidance and detonation systems of the USV included a computer terminal with a dual English/Farsi keyboard and characteristics similar to those of Iranian-produced terminals.  It was also observed that the detonation system included items identical to items found on board the dhow Adris by the United States in March 2016, and that the electrical cables within the detonation mechanism and in the guidance system bore markings indicating Iranian manufacture.  An update will be provided in due course.

The Secretariat observed that one of the UAV – which Saudi authorities ascertain was similar to that of the Iranian-made Ababil-II – is similar to other drones reportedly seized in Yemen brought to our attention by the United Arab Emirates.  We look forward to the opportunity to examine these other unmanned aerial vehicles, in order to independently ascertain their origin.

Fourth, the report also highlights the participation of the Defence Industries Organisation in another foreign exhibition, the International Aviation and Space Salon held in the Russian Federation in July 2017.  The issue was raised with the Russian Federation and we were informed that an investigation into the issue found no action inconsistent with resolution 2231 (2015).  The Secretary-General report also provides information on additional travels by Major General Qasem Soleimani, noting that the Security Council should call upon the government of relevant Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure the proper implementation of the travel ban and other provisions of annex B to resolution 2231 (2015).

Before concluding, I wish to underline that the Secretariat carefully considered the information that the Islamic Republic of Iran conveyed in its letter dated 28 August 2017 which stated that the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, signed into law on 2 August 2017, violated the terms of paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of annex B to resolution 2231 (2015).  It is our assessment that this information does not fall within the scope of this report, unless guidance to the contrary is provided by the Security Council.

Mr. President,

In closing, I would to thank H.E. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi (Italy) for his successful tenure as Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) during this challenging year. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish well to H.E. Ambassador Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom (Netherlands) as he will assume the role of Facilitator on 1 January 2018 and to assure him of the Secretariat’s full support.  Thank you.


[1] Note: quote is taken from speech by President Trump on 13 October, itself based on the language of the U.S. Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.