Remarks by Ambassador Alejandro Wolff on Iran’s Nuclear Program and the UNSC Draft Resolution (Excerpts)

March 15, 2007

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Ambassador Wolff: Hello, everyone.


We had a good council meeting. Text was introduced and will be discussed in the days ahead. We have experts meeting later to discuss some of the details. It's a good text. It addresses a number of areas: travel restrictions on individuals involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs; arms -- embargo on any export of arms from Iran; constraint and vigilance on imports of arms by Iran; and calls upon member states also not to engage in new financial commitments, grants, concessional loans to the government of Iran. And it has an annex listing a number of new individuals and entities associated with or who support Iran's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. So it's a good balanced, incremental step.

The focus remains getting Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment-related activities. If they suspend and that's verified, these measures would be suspended. And the goal again to -- and priority of returning to the negotiating table and dealing with this issue politically.

Reporter: Ambassador?

Ambassador Wolff: Yes?

Reporter: There are several provisions in the resolution that don't deal directly with the nuclear program like the arms export ban, some of the individuals on the list. What is this about? I mean, is this the beginning of a kind of containment strategy by the Security Council to start hitting other elements of Iran's sort of oversea activities that they object to?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, the premise, of course, is that if Iran is, as we all believe, engaged in a nuclear weapons program, that by definition is military, and so the military is of course involved in that. So it's natural and fitting that you deal with those entities involved directly and indirectly in that program. The arms exports, of course, again that benefit and derive resources and revenue for diversion to nuclear and ballistic missile program. So it's a natural and an appropriate and completely in keeping with the objectives of this resolution.

Reporter: I've got a question about the arms embargo. And could you explain to me -- I'm not so familiar with this -- but why wouldn't you also want to make sure that there's no import of arms into Iran? It seems like you're allowing Iran to arm itself, of course not sell to other countries, but prepare itself for an attack perhaps or itself an offensive. Could you explain that to me?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, again, this was the product of a negotiation. Our strong preference would have been to limit those arms, but this is the product of long negotiations. And what some members believed and insisted upon would be an incremental and measured next step. So those options are still available to us. And if we end up back here in 60 days, because of Iranian noncompliance, we will be back on that issue.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, the Iranian president has just said that the Security Council has no locus standi to keep on issuing, I mean, sanctions after sanctions. And also, I mean, another question: When do you see this resolution passing? And do you think you'll come back again and ask for more sanctions against Iran if it does not abide by
this resolution?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, the first comment I would make is the Iranian president says a lot of things. And on this point, the Council - the U.N. charter speaks to each member state's obligations. Iran is a member state, willingly, of this organization and it is obliged to respect the decisions of the council. So there's no issue on there. In terms of when we would adopt it, we have obviously some discussions still to undertake within the council as a whole. Our goal is a speedy adoption of this resolution.

(Cross talk.)

Reporter: -- the financial sanctions. I just want to understand. It calls on states and financial institutions loaning -- to enter into any commitments, et cetera, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes. Isn't that a huge caveat? Couldn't everything be construed as being developmental?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, the objective there, again, was in response to a couple of a delegations who were very concerned about ensuring that these measures do not target the Iranian people and are focused on the Iranian government. That is, those who are rejecting the calls and obligations under the charter through our resolutions to adhere to suspension of enrichment activities. So the reference to humanitarian and developmental means essentially those areas that would assist and help the Iranian people as such. Clearly anything associated with nuclear ballistic missiles is already prohibited and proscribed. So this measure, I think, is a balanced one as well.

Reporter: Ambassador, the fact that the text is accepted by the six countries, does this mean that the resolution will pass or are you meeting any resistance from the Security Council?

Ambassador Wolff: We have every expectation that this -- we'll have a resolution.

Reporter: When do you think -- is there a timeline of when we will have a vote?

Ambassador Wolff: No. I don't want to speculate on that. Our goal is a speedy adoption of a resolution, but a lot has to do -- you know, we'd like to see the entire council on board. It's an important objective to get as many supporters as possible, but timeliness is also an important imperative here. This council has been united all along on this issue -- 1737, the last resolution, was passed unanimously. That's our objective as well and we hope we can do that in a speedy manner.

(Cross talk.)

Reporter: -- this weekend?

Ambassador Wolff: No. This won't be adopted this weekend.

Reporter: (Cross talk.)

Ambassador Wolff: I'm not going to get into preferences. It's a reality of what the negotiating process requires and what full council -- sufficient time for all members to consider this. Our goal is to do this as early as possible.

Reporter: The arms embargo -- does it mean also small weapons, say, like anti-tank missiles?

Ambassador Wolff: Anything going out of Iran is prohibited.

Reporter: The Iranian president's visit to New York -- could you just update us on what they -- have they requested a visa? Are they coming? Is the president coming?

Ambassador Wolff: We have heard this report. We have not yet been officially informed, as far as I know. There was no mention of it today. The council president has not received any requests for an invitation. I find it, again, ironic that the person who's quoted today that he tears up Security Council resolutions and has no respect for what the council does is interested in coming to speak to the council.

Reporter: Is the Iranian president -- (cross talk) -- ?

Ambassador Wolff: One more question.

Reporter: They didn't approach the U.S. Host Committee - the Iranians?

Ambassador Wolff: I am not aware of it. I'll check, but I've been here all morning. So if we've been approached we can let you know subsequently.

Thank you very much.