Iran must stop evading its commitments under nuclear deal, says UN official

Iran must stop evading its commitments under nuclear deal, says UN official
A UN official has called on Iranian regime to refrain from further attempts to avoid its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal. Above, the nuclear water reactor of Arak, south of Tehran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/AFP)
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Updated 23 December 2020

Iran must stop evading its commitments under nuclear deal, says UN official

Iran must stop evading its commitments under nuclear deal, says UN official
  • Rosemarie DiCarlo briefs the Security Council about the latest developments relating to 2015 nuclear pact
  • Participants in the deal urged to avoid actions that might further heighten tensions or trigger hostilities

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.


Abbas announces long-awaited Palestinian elections

Abbas announces long-awaited Palestinian elections
Updated 16 January 2021

Abbas announces long-awaited Palestinian elections

Abbas announces long-awaited Palestinian elections
  • The last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 saw Hamas win an unexpected landslide
  • The 2005 Palestinian presidential vote saw Abbas elected with 62 percent support to replace the late Yasser Arafat

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Friday announced dates for the first Palestinian elections in more than 15 years, setting legislative polls for May 22 and a July 31 presidential vote.
Abbas’s Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian Authority based in the occupied West Bank, and the Hamas group, who hold power in Gaza, have for years expressed interest in taking Palestinians back to the polls.
A long-standing rivalry between the two main Palestinian factions was seen as a leading factor in stalling progress toward a new vote.
But Fatah and Hamas have lately been engaged in unity talks, reaching an agreement in principle in September to hold elections in 2021.
Hamas on Friday welcomed Abbas’s announcement.
“In recent months, we have worked to overcome obstacles in order to reach this day,” it said in a statement.
It added that it looked to “free elections in which voters can express themselves without pressure and without restrictions, in all fairness and transparency.”
A statement on the official Palestinian Wafa news agency said Abbas has signed “a presidential decree concerning elections,” specifying the May and July dates.
“This announcement was eagerly awaited,” Palestinian analyst Arif Jaffal, head of the Arab World Democracy and Electoral Monitor, told AFP.
“It is a very important step,” he said.
The 2005 Palestinian presidential vote saw Abbas elected with 62 percent support to replace the late Yasser Arafat.
There has been no indication from Fatah as to whether the 85-year-old Abbas intends to seek re-election.
A rare poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research carried out last year said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would beat Abbas in a presidential election.

The statement from Abbas said he expects polls will be held “in all governorates of Palestine, including east Jerusalem,” which was annexed by Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War but is considered occupied territory.
Israel bans all Palestinian Authority activity in east Jerusalem, and there was no indication the Jewish state would allow a Palestinian vote within the city.
Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces his own re-election contest in March, describes Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said his government “was ready to get things going to facilitate the electoral process, in total transparency, while waiting for pluralism.”
Some 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, while the densely populated Gaza Strip is home to two million.
The last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 saw Hamas win an unexpected landslide.
The polls resulted in a brief unity government but it soon collapsed and in 2007, bloody clashes erupted in the Gaza Strip between the two principal Palestinian factions, with Hamas ultimately seizing control of Gaza.
Numerous attempts at reconciliation, including a prisoner exchange agreement in 2012 and a short-lived coalition government two years later, have failed to close the rift.
But experts have said intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks have taken on greater urgency following a series of US-brokered normalization agreements signed between Israel and four Arab states.
The deals to normalize ties with Israel signed by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan were condemned across the Palestinian political spectrum.
They also broke with decades of Arab League consensus against recognition of Israel until it reached an agreement to end the Palestinian conflict that included the creation of Palestinian state, with a capital in east Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders have also voiced hope that the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden will lead to renewed diplomacy on the Palestinian cause.
The PA cut ties with President Donald Trump’s administration, accusing it of egregious bias toward Israel.