Members of the Security Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On 16 January, the United Nations welcomed the first anniversary of “Implementation Day” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was endorsed by Security Council resolution 2231 (2015). One year on, the Secretary-General is encouraged by the continued reaffirmation by all JCPOA participants, including during the meeting of the Joint Commission in Vienna on 10 January, of their unequivocal commitment to the full and effective implementation of the agreement.
The JCPOA -- reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran on 14 July 2015 -- is a good example of how multilateral diplomacy, political will and perseverance can resolve the most complex issues. It is imperative that its participants, the United Nations and the broader international community continue to support the full implementation of this historic multilateral agreement for its full duration. Its comprehensive and sustained implementation guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. It will help realize the long-awaited aspirations of the Iranian people to be reconnected to the global economy, and bring to a satisfactory conclusion the consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue by the Security Council.
Today’s meeting of the Security Council is taking place against a backdrop of steady implementation, cooperation and progress. Since “Implementation Day”, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued five reports documenting continued implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments. In her statement on the first anniversary of “Implementation Day”, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, noted that lifting of nuclear-related sanctions, as promised in the agreement, resulted in a surge in bilateral trade and investment in Iran, contributing to better living standards for the benefit of all. The Secretary-General underscores the importance of all JCPOA participants equally accruing the full benefits of the agreement, and calls upon all its participants to continue to work together in good faith and reciprocity.
Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the second report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/2016/1136). The report was submitted to the Council on 30 December 2016 pursuant to annex B to resolution 2231 (2015) and paragraph 7 of 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). It does not cover implementation of annex A to the resolution – namely implementation of its nuclear-related commitments by Iran and of their sanctions lifting commitments by other participants – nor touch upon issues falling within the remit of the Joint Commission.
Let me now turn to the main findings and recommendations of the second report of the Secretary-General related to annex B of resolution 2231.
First, the Secretary-General has not received any report, nor is aware of any open source information regarding the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of nuclear-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of the resolution. Moreover, and also on an encouraging note, Member States have made greater use of the procurement channel process through which the transfer of nuclear-related items is approved by the Council on the basis of recommendation provided by the Joint Commission. Five nuclear-related proposals were submitted since July last year. Three of the proposals have been approved; the other two are still under consideration.
The proposals were processed in accordance with the timelines established by resolution 2231 (2015), with due regard for information security and confidentiality. The operational linkages established between the Security Council and the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission are functioning well, and I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the excellent cooperation that we have with the European External Action Service, especially its Coordinator of the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission.
Second, the Secretary-General has also not received any information regarding Iranian ballistic missile activitiesor ballistic missile-related transfers to Iran undertaken contrary to the relevant provisions of the resolution.
Third, in terms of restrictions on arms-related transfers, the report includes information on the seizure of an arms shipment by the French Navy in the Northern Indian Ocean in March 2016. France concluded that the arms shipment originated in Iran and that such transfer had been undertaken contrary to annex B of the resolution. In addition, the Secretariat also received information from Australia and the Combined Maritime Forces on another arms seizure, off the coast of Oman, in February 2016, by the Royal Australian Navy. That shipment of arms was also assessed, by the US Navy, to have originated in Iran. Both seizures bear strong similarities with the one reported by the United States in June 2016 (and mentioned in the first report of the Secretary-General).
The Secretariat looks forward to the opportunity to examine the arms seized in all three instances and obtain additional information, in order to corroborate the information provided and independently ascertain the origin of the shipments.
Still on arms-related transfers and of particular concern is the June 2016 televised statement by the Secretary-General of Hizbullah that Hizbullah receives its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles from Iran. The statement suggests that transfers of arms from Iran to Hizbullah may have been undertaken contrary to resolution 2231 (2015). In addition, the report notes the November 2016 letter by Israel to the Secretary-General and the Council about the alleged use of commercial flights by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to transfer arms and related materiel to Hizbullah, and the subsequent response from Iran that such claims were baseless and unsubstantiated accusations.
With regards to the case of Iranian participation in an arms exhibition held in Baghdad in March 2016, which was presented in the first report of the Secretary-General on this issue, I am able to inform the Council today that Iraqi authorities confirmed in October 2016 that all items exhibited were returned to Iran. Therefore, no further follow-up will be taken by the Secretariat in relation to this matter.
Finally, Mr. President, the report draws the attention of Council members to possible ongoing travel ban violations by individuals on the list maintained pursuant to resolution 2231 (2015). The report includes information on two possible foreign travels by Brigadier General Naqdi and on numerous possible foreign travels by Major General Soleimani which are supported by photographic evidence released by Iranian and other regional media outlets. The Secretariat raised these possible violations with the countries involved. Iraq and Syria did not deny nor confirm such information, but emphasized that no invitations were extended or visas were issued by their respective authorities to the individuals.
In response to the Secretariat’s request for clarification on the possible transfer of arms to Hizbullah as well as the possible travel ban violations, Iran underlined that “measures undertaken by [Iran] in combating terrorism and violent extremism in the region have been consistent with its national security interests and international commitments.”
Looking forward to the second year of JCPOA implementation, I would like to once again emphasize the particular responsibilities of JCPOA participants in carrying the full and effective implementation of the agreement. The wider international community also has an interest in and must contribute to the long-term implementation of the agreement.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of H.E. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain) in his role as Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) in 2016. I would like to congratulate H.E Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi (Italy) on his selection as Facilitator for 2017. Ambassador Cardi, you and the Security Council can count on the full support of the United Nations Secretariat in your stewardship of the resolution endorsing this historic agreement.