Report on UNSC Meeting on the JCPOA
By Christian Ciobanu, Lizzie McGowan, Patrick Liu, and Myrna Nakhla
On 27 June 2018, Russia chaired the UN Security Council’s semi-annual briefing on the status of UNSC Resolution 2231, the resolution that endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. It was the UNSC’s fifth meeting on Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA and the first meeting about Iran’s Nuclear Program to be convened after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and unilaterally imposed sanctions onto Iran.
The briefing also consisted of three relevant presentations, which addressed the Secretary-General 12 June Report (S/2018/602) on the implementation of the resolution, the UNSC’s work relating to Iran, and the JCPOA’s Joint Commission. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, Ambassador Karel van Oosterom of the Netherlands, in his capacity as the UNSC’s 2231 facilitator, the Head of the EU delegation, Ambassador Joâo Pedro Vale de Almeida respectively delivered these presentations to UNSC members.
Following the aforementioned presentations, a tense debate occurred in which the Russian Federation, Bolivia, France, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, and Kuwait conveyed their condemnations and disappointments about the U.S.’ decision to renege on its commitments to the Iran’s nuclear deal and violate a binding UNSC resolution. Ultimately, the UNSC’s debate revealed the extent to which President Trump has broken away from US allies in Europe, how his actions thrusted both the EU and Russia into pivotal players in the Iran nuclear deal and the Middle East region in order to quell any potential nuclear proliferation concerns.
Section 1: Presentations
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo, presented the Secretary-General’s report. She mentioned that nearly three years ago, the UNSC unanimously adopted UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal. The UNSG welcome the plan as a major achievement. Moreover, she underscored that the IAEA has consistently report that Iran has been implementing its commitments under the JCPOA.
In addition, she touched upon the procurement channel, a vehicle to review proposals from states wishing engage in trade with Iran on nuclear and non-nuclear civilian end uses.
Significantly, she explained that the report focuses on Annex B of Resolution 2231, which requires states to comply with specific restrictions. Unfortunately, it is determined that Iran has not be incompliance with Annex B.
As part the Secretary-General’s allegations that Iran has violated Annex B of the resolution, Di-Carlo specified that Iran delivered ballistic missiles to Houfi, which launched missiles against Saudi Arabia as well as allegations by Israel about Iran’s ballistic missiles in January 2018. The Secretariat further received information about intercepted shipments of unmanned surface missiles in Bahrain. The Secretariat concluded a series of preliminary observations and investigations in which it confirmed that the guidance system was based on Iran technology and the components of the missiles were manufactured in Iran. Additionally, the Secretariat determined that the weapons were designed sometime between 2002-2010. However, the Secretariat could not determine when Iran transferred the weapons. Thus, it could not conclusively determine whether Iran delivered the weapons before or after the nuclear deal entered into force. weapons were transferred over.
In addition, the report reflected grave concerns that Iran violated travel embargoes by allowing several of its generals to attend an armed and defense exhibition in Iraq. Furthermore, Di-Carlo informed states that the report addresses allegations that Iran has been funding other armed groups within Palestine in order to exacerbate tensions between Palestine and Israel.
Progresss on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 2231
As the facilitator of UNSC Resolution 2231, Ambassador Oosterom of the Netherlands touched upon the success of the nuclear deal with Iran and the resolution. He contended that the unanimous adoption of the resolution underscored the importance of the deal. He further explained that, since early 2016, the procurement channel has received 37 proposals from states to engage in activities with Iran. Finally, he called for the UNSC to engage in wider engagement with the UN General Assembly on the procurement channel.
Amb. Joao Pedro Vale de Almeida of the European Union proclaimed that the UNSC must continue to implement the JCPOA, an effective mechanism that prevents an armed nuclear conflict.
He also expressed his dismay that the United States withdrew from the deal. Its decision to renege on its commitments was an unforeseen act and places all relevant stakeholders in a precarious position.
Despite the U.S. actions, the E.U will continue overwhelmingly support the nuclear disarmament, as it is assists in ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. Further, the E.U remarked that Iran has consistently passed 11 inspections by the IAEA. and been in compliance with the JCPOA. Consequently, the European Union will continue to be apart of it.
Amb. Joao Pedro Vale de Almeida expounded on Iran’s history of compliance by mentioning their program is under the most rigorous monitoring in the world. On May 24, 2018 the IAEA issued its 11th report that demonstrated Iran’s full compliance with the JCPOA. On the other hand, Iran’s military actions outside of the deal are troubling. It seem that though they are in compliance, they have significantly proliferated their ballistic missile activity, which has worsened tensions in the region.
Its aggressive actions in the war with Yemen, Israel, and Saudi Arabia indicate a ploy for dominance in the Middle East and is a serious threat to stability. To ease these tensions, the international community must continue to engage with in dialog with actors in the region and support the UN Secretary general’s envoy. In order to work towards a solution to this problem, the international community must address Iran’s provocative actions independently from the JCPOA. Abandoning the JCPOA would neither put the U.S. in a good position or provide a solution to Iran’s use of Ballistic missiles and tensions in the region.
Concerning annex B of UNSC Resolution 2231, the Ambassador explained that the procurement working group has been working in full cooperation with Iran and relevant partners. He reminded delegates that the procurement mechanism is the only mechanism to provide NSG-listed items to Iran. To date, the procurement group has received 37 requests from states.
Section II. Debate in the UNSC
At the conclusion of the presentations, Russia opened the floor and the debate commenced in the UNSC on the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. took the floor and attempted to justify President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal and impose unilateral actions against Iran. Specifically, the U.S. explained that its actions were necessary in order to deny Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In an attempt to link the JCPOA to ballistic missiles, the U.S. asserted that Iran’s actions with its ballistic missiles contravened the spirit and intent of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Specifically, the U.S cited that Iran provided missiles to Houthi rebel groups, which launched them into Saudi Arabia as well as shipping missile components of weapons into Bahrain, and providing arms to terrorist groups in Palestine. As a result, the U.S. agreed with the Secretariat’s report about Iran and concluded that the evidence suggests that Iran’s activities violated UNSC Resolution 2231; and thereby, the international community must swiftly deal with Iran.
In an attempt to punish Iran’s for its actions, the U.S. imposed unilateral actions against Iran. These sanctions will send a message that the U.S. will not accept Iran’s actions in the region. Finally, the U.S. expressed hope that the UNSC members will support the U.S.
Rebutting the U.S. and Responding to the Presentations
Russia and Bolivia
In a clear rebuttal to the U.S., Russia condemned the U.S.’ actions. It also asserted that the U.S.’ withdrawal undermines the agreement and further destabilizes the region. It further finds the U.S. in direct violation of UNSC Resolution 2231.
Concerning the Secretariat’s report about Iran, Russia argued that the report presents a biased view about the situation. As explained by Russia, the report only mentions the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal in passing and fails to address how the U.S. unilateral actions directly violate the resolution. Additionally, Russia expressed its surprise that the Secretariat’s report fails to address the fact that Tehran has started the dispute mechanism against the U.S. for its actions against Iran and the Nuclear Deal.
Regarding the allegations about Iran’s ballistic missiles and the transfer of its missiles to Iran’s proxy agents in the Middle East, including to the Houthi and rebel groups in Bahrain, Russia contended that it is incomprehensible and unacceptable for the Secretariat to investigate the allegations because it does not fall within the purview of the Secretariat. The Secretariat is required to have a mandate by the UNSC in order to engage in such activities. Moreover, Russia contended the Secretariat’s staff did not have a clear mandate and lacked the technical expertise to analyze missiles and their components. Thus, due to the fact that the Secretariat engaged in an “in-house” investigation of Iran and acted outside of its scope. the Secretariat’s findings about Iran are inadmissible.
In addition, Russia explained that the Secretariat’s report fails to provide a concrete timeline of when Iran delivered its missiles to rebel groups. As a result, it is nearly impossible to determine if Iran provided weapons to the rebel groups, before the Iran Nuclear Deal went into effect. If Iran delivered weapons before the deal was implemented, then Iran would not have been in violation of provisions set forth in UNSC Resolution 2231.
Despite the allegations and “biased” information in the report, Russia contended that all member states must remember that the IAEA has consistently found Iran to be in compliance with the nuclear deal.
Echoing similar sentiments, Bolivia cited the importance of preserving the nuclear deal and lambasted the U.S.’s unilateral actions. Bolivia reminded UNSC members that it took 12 long years of intense diplomatic activities to address Iran and achieving the nuclear deal. The deal should not be revoked or postponed because one member state reneged on its commitments.
Bolivia also criticized the aforementioned report for being biased and failing to address both aspects of the unsc resolution.
Significantly, Bolivia underscored that the the UNSC endorsed the deal through UNSC Resolution 2231, a legally binding resolution onto all members. Considering that the UNSC endorsed the plan, Bolivia accused the U.S. of engaging in illegal activities by reneging on the deal and imposing sanctions, which were subject to exemptions under the deal.
Bolivia further welcomed Iran’s continued commitments to the deal and hails the wills of the other parties to support the deal as they expressed in Vienna on May 25, 2018.
Similarly, the U.K. expressed regret towards the United States’ decision to pull out of the nuclear deal. The US decision brings uncertainty as to the future of the deal and regional stability in the Middle East. Additionally, sanctions further escalates tensions and diminishes progress towards denuclearization.
The U.K. further specified that Iran is in compliance with the deal as evident in the latest report by the IAEA. Iran’s steadfast compliance to the nuclear deal demonstrates a strong commitment to the deal and peaceful use of nuclear materials, which are transferred to Iran through the procurement channel. Thus, the U.K. proclaimed that its position on the deal is clear: the deal makes the world a better place.
Nevertheless, the U.K. has been troubled by the Secretariat' findings about Iran’s transfer of ballistic missile technology to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Is. The U.K. expressed its concerns that the proliferation of missile technology, especially to Iran’s proxy agency demonstrates Iran’s bid for dominance in the region. As a result, the U.K. shares the U.S.’ concerns about Iran and strongly calls upon Iran to disengage from such behavior.
Similarly to the U.K/’s views, France expressed its strong support to the deal and expressed its disappointments about the U.S.’ actions. France elaborated that the deal is the embodiment of the ideal non-proliferation package, and its dismantlement would undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime. France also explained that it worked relentely to ensure that deal is robust in nature and satisfied all parties. Ultimately, the JCPOA is a cornerstone of maintaining stability in the Middle East and vital for international peace.
However, France is deeply concerned about the allegations associated with Iran’s ballistic missile activity in the region, in particular, Iran’s decision to transfer weapons to rebels, skirmishes in Saudi Arabia, and escalating tensions with Israel. Therefore, it hopes that continued dialogue with Iran and relevant parties will help to alleviate tensions and address Iran’s ballistic missiles program.
Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands shared similar views and expressed their firm commitments to the Iran deal. They aligned themselves and welcomed the EU’s presentation.
In terms of the controversy about the Secretary-General Report, they found it necessary and important that the Secretariat focused on Iran’s ballistic missile programs and its activities with its proxy agents. They concurred that Iran must work with the international community and engage in dialogue.
Similar to the vast majority of UNSC members , Kazakhstan expressed its disappointments that the U.S. reneged on its commitments and imposed unilateral actions onto Iran. Kazakhstan further highlighted how the nuclear disarmament has produced three vital contributions to international peace and security. These contributions are:
- The nuclear deal is the only recognized way for the international community to verify the exclusive peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program
- The nuclear deal fulfills its mission in terms of taking stocks and halting Iran’s ambitions. The deal placed Iran’s nuclear program under international community through the IAEA.
- The nuclear deal provides a significant example in which diplomacy resolved a serious matter.
As the sole Arab state, Kuwait’s views on the JCPOA are vital. Kuwait reaffirmed its commitment to the nuclear deal. Kuwait explained that that even though the deal does not address all of its concerns about Iran’s behavior in the region, the deal contributes to regional stability. Hence, it is incumbent for the international community to preserve the JCPOA.
Kuwait further mentioned that it is vital for all state to respect and observe UNSC resolutions. Nonetheless, it is important to analyze the reasons why the US chose to withdraw from the deal.
Against this backdrop, Kuwait conveyed its concerns about the Secretariat’s report about Iran’s ballistic missiles and its decision to transfer missiles to rebellious groups. However, Kuwait acknowledged Russia’s position that the Secretariat could not determine when Iran actually transferred its technology and weapons. Thus, Kuwait contended that all members must engage in policies of non-interference and good neighborliness. It further called upon the UNSC to follow-up with UNSC Resolution 2231 to ensure that Iran is in compliance with the resolution.
Overall, the intense debate indicated that the vast majority of states are highly disappointed that the U.S. reneged on its commitments to the Iran Nuclear Deal. The discussion further revealed that the Trump administration does not understand the significance of UNSC resolutions and their context in international law. Moreover, the debate also made it clear that the U.S.’ traditionally allies are distancing themselves away from the U.S.’ actions against the Iran nuclear deal.
Essentially, the debate amongst UNSC members demonstrated that, as the U.S. is isolating itself by adopting radical policies, European states and Russia are stepping in to fill this new void in the regional affairs of the Middle East. Thus, new powers have emerged to replace the U.S.’ position of serving as a “police force against proliferation concerns.”
 The mechanism covers three categories of goods, and associated assistance and services. The first covers goods that are ‘especially designed or prepared for nuclear use’. The second includes goods with both nuclear and civilian applications, commonly referred to as ‘dual-use’. Controlling this category of goods is generally more difficult because it comprises items which, in addition to their more sensitive use, also have wide industrial and commercial applications. Indeed, these have comprised the bulk of Iran’s procurement activities.
The third category covers any other items that are determined by the ‘relevant State’ as having the potential to ‘contribute to activities inconsistent with the JCPOA’.
 A detailed description of the specific resolutions can be found at http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/2231(2015)&referer=http://www.un.org/en/sc/2231/&Lang=E