UN, EU differ with US on Iran nuclear deal

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 30 June 2017

UN, EU differ with US on Iran nuclear deal

UNITED NATIONS: US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday accused Tehran of “destructive and destabilizing” actions from ballistic missile launches to arms smuggling.
The speeches at a Security Council meeting on implementation of a UN resolution endorsing the July 2015 nuclear agreement showed the deep division over Iran between the five major powers who view the deal as a major achievement and the Trump administration, which is reviewing it.
The UN and the EU praised the Islamic Republic for implementing the nuclear deal with six major powers.
US President Donald Trump, congressional Republicans and Israel have assailed the agreement as a windfall to Iran that only delayed its pursuit of nuclear weapons. GOP lawmakers said it saved Iran’s economy by lifting economic penalties and allowed the country to funnel more money to terrorist groups.
Haley said only that the US would adhere to the deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program while conducting the comprehensive review.
She focused on what the US views as Iran’s repeated violations of the 2015 resolution, which she accused the Security Council of ignoring. She cited ballistic missile launches and illicit procurement of missile technology as well as “proven arms smuggling.”
“Iran’s destructive and destabilizing role in the Middle East goes far beyond its illicit missile launches,” Haley said. “From Syria to Yemen and Iraq to Lebanon, Iran’s support for terrorist groups continued unabated. Iran’s weapons, military advisers and arms smugglers stoke regional conflicts and make them harder to solve.”
By contrast, the focus of UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman, EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida and ambassadors from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany was on Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, though there were also expressions of concern about its missile tests and smuggling.
Feltman told the council that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is deeply encouraged by the continued commitment by all participants to the agreement,” calling it “the embodiment of successful multilateral diplomacy, political will and perseverance.”
He noted the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued seven reports, the latest in early June, documenting Iran’s continued implementation of its nuclear-related commitments and said Guterres believes sustained implementation of the deal “will guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful.”
The diplomatic achievement, Feltman said, “gives us all hope that even the most difficult issues among states can be addressed through dialogue, understanding and reciprocity.”
Vale de Almeida, speaking on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who coordinates the nuclear deal, said, “The initial results are clear and speak for themselves: Iran’s nuclear program has been rolled back and placed under tight inspections.”
At a time when the world is again faced “with the threat of unchecked nuclear capabilities” — a reference to the threat from North Korea — he said the Iran deal known as the JCPOA is “a pillar of the international non-proliferation agenda” that needs to be fully implemented.
In an apparent reference to the US debate over the deal, Vale de Almeida stressed: “We would not be in a better position to address all the other non-nuclear matters (with Iran) without the JCPOA in place.”
Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, Peter Wilson, called the Iran agreement “one of the most important diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”
He said the UK encourages all countries and parties to the agreement — a message that appeared especially aimed at the US — “to uphold their commitments, including ensuring that the Iranian people gain further tangible benefits from sanctions relief.”

But Wilson also said “some less positive issues” raised in Guterres’ latest report need to be addressed. He cited Iran’s Jan. 29 launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, reported violations of a ban on conventional arms transfers, including new evidence of an attempted arms shipment from Iran to Somalia, and multiple violations of a travel ban, including by Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force.
Haley stressed that the US would not “turn a blind eye” to such violations and will interdict cargo prohibited under the UN resolution and continue to impose sanctions on Iran.
“The continuance of the Iranian regime’s destructive, destabilizing behavior will prevent us from ever having a normal relationship with the US and the rest of the world,” she said. “And the regime’s continued oppression of its own people speaks volumes about its true nature.”

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 22 min 43 sec ago

Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.