NEW YORK: Recent years in the Gulf have been characterized by rising tensions, “heated rhetoric and the heightened risk of miscalculations (that have) rendered efforts to address other regional conflicts more difficult,” according to a top UN official.
During a briefing to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Rosemary DiCarlo, the under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, also called on the Iranian regime to refrain from further attempts to avoid its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, it includes an agreement by Tehran to limit its nuclear research in exchange for sanctions relief. It was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US), plus Germany and the EU
DiCarlo was updating the Security Council on developments relating to Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal and set out a process for monitoring its implementation.
She called on all parties to the deal to avoid any activities that might further escalate existing hostilities, and instead attempt to resolve their differences through the dispute-resolution mechanism contained within the JCPOA.
While she reiterated the support of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for initiatives designed to facilitate trade and economic relations with Iran, especially during the pandemic, DiCarlo also called on Iran to address “concerns raised about its (arms-transfer) activities.”
Resolution 2231 included a ban on the transfer of arms to or from Iran, which expired on Oct. 18 this year. After withdrawing the US from the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposing sanctions on Tehran, the Trump administration presented a draft resolution calling for an extension to the UN arms ban, but the Security Council voted it down.
The majority of council members also rejected a US request in August to reinstate all of the UN sanctions on Iran that were in place before the nuclear deal was signed, on the grounds that Tehran has violated many of the terms of the agreement. However, one of the requirements for initiating this so-called “snapback” mechanism is that the country doing so must be an active participant in the JCPOA, which the US no longer was.
“The reimposition by the US of all its national sanctions that had been lifted or waived pursuant to the (JCPOA) are contrary to the goals set out in the plan and in resolution 2231,” said DiCarlo, adding that the majority of UN member states still support the nuclear deal.
Updating the council on two cases relating to arms transfers, Dicarlo said that Israel had provided information to the secretary-general and the Security Council about the continuing proliferation of advanced weaponry in Iran.
“Regarding Israeli information concerning four alleged Dehlavieh anti-tank guided missiles in Libya, the Secretariat was able to ascertain that one of the four missiles has characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh,” she said. “Nevertheless, we were not able to determine if this missile was transferred to Libya and/or whether its transfer was inconsistent with the resolution.”
Iran rejected these claims in a letter to the secretary-general.
DiCarlo also expressed regret at “steps taken by Iran since July 2019 to reduce some of its nuclear-related commitments under the (JCPOA).”
The deal includes a guarantee that officials from the UN-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be granted access to Iranian nuclear sites and information about the nation’s nuclear program. While Tehran has complied with some of these provisions, the IAEA reports that limits placed by the JCPOA on uranium enrichment have been exceeded. Low levels of enrichment required for generating nuclear power are allowed under the deal, but higher levels of enrichment needed for the development of nuclear weapons are not.
“It is essential that Iran refrains from further steps to reduce its commitments, and returns to full implementation of the (JCPOA),” said DiCarlo.
The Iranian parliament recently passed a bill that allows for the installation of advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges and the expulsion of IAEA inspectors if the country fails to receive the economic benefits promised by the deal. Advanced centrifuges allow the enrichment of uranium to higher levels than are allowed under the deal.
This month, France, the UK and Germany said they were “deeply concerned” by the announcement. “If Iran is serious about preserving a space for diplomacy, it must not implement these steps,” the three powers said in a joint statement.
The IAEA reported last month that Iran had begun operating advanced centrifuges at an underground site in Natanz.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised a US return to the JCPOA but hinted that negotiations will be required about Iran’s missiles program and its disruptive regional activities. European signatories have also hinted as much.
Iran rejects any suggestion of further negotiations, insisting that the nuclear deal must be implemented as agreed in 2015.