Kharrazi Addresses the 58th Session of the U.N. General Assembly

September 25, 2003

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The I would like to express my cordial felicitations to you for presiding over this important Session of the General Assembly. I wish also to express my congratulations to other members of the Bureau for their election.

Less than 60 years ago our founding fathers established the United Nations with the aspiration to promote peace and security through cooperation and to make our world a better place to live. The creation of this organization was in fact the manifestation of the determination of the international community to prevent the scourge of war, which inflicted tremendous loss and damages upon humankind. The United Nations was also designed to promote the economic, social and human development and assist Member States to eradicate injustice and poverty.

These objectives and concerns remain as valid as ever and perhaps even more relevant today. Escalation of conflicts is still the main sources of instability and insecurity, particularly in the developing world with long and direct consequences for the whole world. Maintenance of international peace and security continues to remain the formidable challenge facing the United Nations as well as the countries, large and small. And, human beings continue to suffer from economic and social inequalities and the dichotomy of the haves and have-nots in the world.

The last few years have not been the best of years for the United Nations. The United Nations has been sidelined at times, and its authority undermined to considerable extent. However, there are recent indications that a return to the United Nations is indispensable. We welcome this new trend. We believe it is time to take stock of the recent developments, the utility and the record of the United Nations with a view to promoting the authority, efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations as well as recognizing its central role in addressing the challenges of our time.

The United States waged an unsanctioned war against Iraq with three expressed objectives: to find weapons of mass destruction, to fight international terrorism and to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. The first is yet to be realized. The second has backfired. And, as far as the third is concerned, while the collapse of a dictatorship is a highly welcome development in the region, however, as history borne witness, social changes, including the democratization of a society, could only be brought about from within and not imported in tandem with tank columns. In our view, a callous indifference about the negative consequences of the invasion of Iraq for the conduct of international relations and a lack of full comprehension of the post-war situation in Iraq, particularly the social and cultural complexities of the Iraqi society have created both an international predicament and a source of instability at our borders.

Saddam waged a long and bloody war against my country and was cheered and supported in this war by many who later turned against him. Therefore, our criticism of the US military intervention in Iraq and its current operation of occupation cannot easily be dismissed. Our position is one of principle that unilateralism will not pay off for many reasons, no matter how militarily powerful the actor may be.

As a neighboring state, Iran adopted a policy of self-restraint during the war in Iraq and has continued to adopt a constructive approach to the current situation in that country by:

- Calling on the occupying powers to allow the immediate transfer of the Iraqi sovereignty to the Iraqi people and withdraw their troops, - Welcoming and supporting the establishment of the Iraqi Governing Council and the Council of Ministers, - Calling for granting a central and clear-cut role to the United Nations in the restoration of the Iraqi sovereignty and constitutional process, - Promoting unity and greater respect for stability and security among various ethnic and religious groups in Iraq, - Encouraging and supporting the swift setting in motion of a constitutional and institution building process with a view to establishing a democratic and fully representative government by and for the people of Iraq, - Promoting respect for national unity, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq, - Providing relief emergency assistance to the people of Iraq.

Pending the restoration of sovereignty and authority to the people of Iraq, the occupying powers have the legal responsibility under applicable international law to provide for the welfare of the people under occupation, particularly their security. In this context, the United Nations should be allowed to play a central and key role in laying the ground work, on an urgent basis, for assisting the Iraqi people to establish a democratic and representative government and supervising the transfer of authority to them. The United Nations will undoubtedly be fully supported in this endeavor by the international community, in general, and Iraq's neighbors, in particular.

I shall not fail to reiterate my message of condolences to the Secretary-General and the UN community as a whole for the loss of a brave servant of the nations, Mr. Sergio de Mello and other UN personnel in the terrorist bombing of the UN Headquarters in Iraq. The people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran also sympathized with the people of Iraq over the loss of another man of peace, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Hakim, in another terrorist bombing in Iraq.

Mr. President,

The violence against and the killing of innocent Palestinian people by the Israeli army has become an everyday event and the prospect for a viable peace is increasingly diminishing. The Palestinian people are living under brutal occupation and suppression with no prospect for relief, let alone peace and prosperity. The international community has a major responsibility to take effective measures in alleviating the sufferings of the Palestinian people. The policy of the Sharon government in reoccupying the Palestinian cities and using military forces to further terrorize the Palestinian people have exacerbated the situation and added to the despair and frustration of the ordinary people. The United Nations Security Council, which is primarily responsible for maintenance of international peace and security, should live up to its responsibilities with regard to the Palestinian question.

The recent decision of the Israeli regime to expel President Arafat from his homeland has outraged the international community, in general, and the Muslim world, in particular. Such decision which clearly aims to suppress the will of a nation by expelling its elected president constitutes a flagrant violation of the established principles of international law. As the Chairman of the OIC Conference of the Foreign Ministers, I have condemned this decision of the Israeli regime and assured President Arafat of the strong support of the OIC. I am confident that the free and civilized world continues to reject and condemn such move by Israel. It is regrettable that the United States, once again last week and for the 36th time, resorted to veto to block the adoption of a draft resolution, which would otherwise have criticized the Israeli regime for its crime against the Palestinians and urged the Israelis not to deport President Arafat. It is unacceptable that the UN Security Council becomes paralyzed vis-à-vis a grave crisis which is on the top of the international priorities. The whole world, especially people in the Middle East, is bewildered over the extent of double standard and selectivity with which the US Government approaches similar issues on the agenda of the Security Council.

I wish to seize this opportunity to express satisfaction of the people and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the steady improvement of the situation in Afghanistan under the leadership of President Karzai and his Government. At the same time, we are concerned about difficulties such as the regrouping of the remnants of the Taliban and Al-Qaida, the paucity of international assistance and the increase in the opium cultivation. Unless the international community is more forthcoming in assisting the Afghan people and government, the recent achievements in Afghanistan may not remain secure.

We have a great stake in the return of full normalcy and stability to Afghanistan. In this direction, we have strongly supported the central role of the United Nations in helping the Afghans to rebuild their own country and we believe that the United Nations should continue this role for the foreseeable future. Building on the fact that Iran and Afghanistan enjoy historic affinities, which have provided a common ground and impetus for expanding bilateral relations in all areas, we have spared no effort in helping the Afghan people in recent years. Our contributions to the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the last fiscal year amounted to close to $ 68 million.

Mr. President,

Terrorism is a global phenomenon which requires a global response. Fighting terrorism requires a multi-faceted approach that goes well beyond just a law and order focus and addresses its underlying causes. A unilateral and one-dimensional approach, based merely on the use of force may neutralize some threats and bring some psychological comfort in terms of revenge in response to terrorist acts, but few would regard that as a serious resolve to uproot international terrorism.

Any attempt to link terrorism to a specific religion or culture is prejudicial, politically motivated and thus unacceptable. No religion authorizes the believers to kill innocent people for achieving any objective whatsoever.

The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Iran has done more than its fair share to effectively combat terrorism. My country faces an extraordinary and unparalleled situation; in the heat of the military intervention in Afghanistan and in the wake of the Taliban collapse, our long and porous eastern borders faced an influx of thousands of undocumented and unidentifiable people. Rising up to the task, the Government adopted special measures such as the closure of the border points, reinforcing the border control, enhancing security in the border areas and cities and reinstating the visa requirement for nationals of many regional countries.

As a result, thousands of individuals were denied entry into Iran, more than 2300 individuals with false or no travel documents were deported and hundreds of suspects were arrested, interrogated and handed over to their countries of nationality or residence, and their lists were brought to the attention of the relevant officials and bodies of the United Nations.

Iran, as a victim of terrorism, is willing and resolute to be also at the forefront of fighting international terrorism. At the same time, we reject selectivity and double standards in combating terrorism. Iran is a partner for the long haul to engage in a serious fight against terrorism that is comprehensive, non-discriminatory and non-selective; one that does not pick and choose between good or bad or useful terrorists.

Mr. President,

Weapons of mass destruction are amongst the most potent threats to peace and security at the regional and global levels. CWC, BWC and the NPT are the results of our collective wisdom to respond to this threat through elimination in the first two cases and non-proliferation in the third. We believe we should do much more. We should do more to make these basic international instruments universal. We should also do more to strengthen verifiability of their implementations. And finally, we should all work collectively, as mandated by the ICJ, to move towards total elimination of nuclear weapons.

By adhering to all these three legal instruments, as an original party, my country has manifested its determination towards total eradication of weapons of mass destruction from the globe. Our commitment to international regimes on weapons of mass destructions does not merely lie in our contractual obligations but, more importantly, in our religious convictions and historical experience. No country like mine in recent decades may feel so fresh the tragic scars of being victims of such weapons particularly within a complacent international milieu. We are convinced that pursuit of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction not only cannot provide deterrence or enhance one's security and influence, but will only increase vulnerability. Thus, I can state categorically that for all these reasons, weapons of mass destruction have no place in the defensive strategy of my country. We believe the only option is to work actively towards global and regional banning of these weapons and have thus spared no effort in this regard.

However, the efforts to ban or strengthen the ban on the weapons of mass destruction should not provide any excuse for denying the rights of States to develop technology for peaceful purposes. Today, the extensive application of chemical, biological and nuclear industries is the main ingredients of our daily lives. The States Parties to the legal instruments banning weapons of mass destruction should be assisted in acquiring such technology for peaceful purposes. The advancement and application of such materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes are the essential steps for the economic and social development and progress of the developing countries.

The political pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran to set aside its inalienable rights to develop peaceful nuclear technology is unfortunately mounting in circumstances that some Nuclear Weapon States are testing and developing advanced tactical nuclear weapons program and Israel, in defiance of international calls to adhere to the NPT, is continuing with impunity its clandestine development of sophisticated nuclear weapons and its delivery systems. The NPT Review and Extension Conferences have all called for the suspension and freezing of the tactical weapons program and the Israeli nuclear program which is the real threats to international peace and security. They are both considered to be in contravention with the letter and spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran's nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, particularly production of 7000 Mw of electricity that is foreseen in Iran's planned economic development by the year 2020. Iran will vigorously pursue its peaceful nuclear program and will not give in to unreasonable demands that are discriminatory, selective and go beyond the requirements of non-proliferation in accordance with existing IAEA instruments. At the same time, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program nor does it intend to embark on one. Thus, we have nothing to hide, and in principle have no problem with the additional protocol. We are anxious to ascertain that this step will be solely utilized to enhance confidence and remove all doubts about the peaceful nature of our nuclear program.

Mr. President,

In facing the global challenges, no possibility other than mutual cooperation through the United Nations will be conducive to lasting and effective solutions. The democratic process advocated at all levels within the international community needs to be also reflected within the UN system. The General Assembly should play a more active role in global affairs. A more representative and democratic Security Council would mean a more efficient United Nations - the kind of organization we should all want and work for.

Thank You, Mr. President