Remarks by Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., at a Security Council Briefing on Iran and Resolution 1737

December 21, 2011

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile
  • Nuclear

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Ambassador Osorio, for your report.

Mr. President, we meet at a critical moment in this Council's ongoing effort to address the threat posed by Iran's illicit nuclear activities.

Since we last met, the IAEA Director General has released a damning report on the status of Iran's implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement and its response to UN Security Council resolutions on Iran. The report concluded that Iran remains in noncompliance with its international nuclear obligations - and added to the mountain of evidence that Iran is misleading international community about its nuclear activities and its nuclear intentions.

Of even greater concern, this report addressed the question at the heart of the international community's concerns: has Iran carried out, and is it still carrying out, activities related to the development of a nuclear weapon? The report is clear: the IAEA's information indicates that Iran has carried out activities that are -- and I quote -- "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." The report further states "that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing."

I want to draw the Council's attention to yet another alarming development - Iran's self-proclaimed intention to start enrichment at the underground Qom facility, perhaps as soon as this month. This is the same facility that Iran hid from the international community until it was discovered two years ago. At Qom, Iran now intends to consolidate its provocative production of uranium enriched to a level near 20 percent. This is concerning because it brings Iran significantly closer to the capability to produce highly enriched uranium. To date, Iran has yet to provide a credible rationale for the production of near 20% enriched uranium. It has already produced sufficient fuel to power the Tehran Research Reactor for another five years, at minimum, and Iranian leaders have already described this production as "uneconomical."

The start of enrichment at Qom will serve as yet another illustration of Iran's flagrant disregard for the Council's very clear position on Iran's enrichment activities. Iran's behavior plainly belies the purported peaceful nature of its nuclear program. No one, after reading the November report, can reasonably believe Iran's contention that its continuing uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes only.

The decision by the IAEA Board of Governors last month to censure Iran demonstrated yet again the overwhelming view of the international community that Iran's illicit nuclear activities are unacceptable.

The Council therefore must redouble its efforts to implement the sanctions already imposed. Full implementation of these measures will show Iran there is a price to be paid for its deception. Full implementation can also slow down Iran's nuclear progress, buying us more time to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means.

The 1737 Committee and Panel of Experts are key to this effort. These bodies must continue effectively - and robustly - to implement their mandates and programs of work. The Committee must reinvigorate its efforts to implement the Panel's recommendations, including to publish further detailed Implementation Assistance Notices to help Member States meet their obligations. The Panel must continue to investigate sanctions violations and promote international awareness of the measures we have imposed.

The United States would like to express appreciation for the Panel's recent work, including its Midterm Report and its recent report on Iran's space-launch activity, which involved both projects related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and launches using ballistic missile technology in violation of resolution 1929 (2010). The Committee should review these reports carefully and take action in response. The Committee must also do more to respond to sanctions violations and sanctions violators, such as by designating violators for targeted sanctions. Resolution 1929 (2010) directed the Committee to respond effectively to these violations; Resolutions 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010) also decided that the Committee may designate additional individuals and entities that have assisted in evasion of sanctions or violations of Security Council resolutions. New designations of such individuals and entities would send a powerful signal of the Committee's commitment to enforce UN Security Council resolutions.

My government remains seriously concerned that the Panel's Final Report has not yet been released to the wider UN membership because of the continued objections of a couple members of this Council. This is an appalling failure of transparency. As I have stated before, we strongly believe this report must be made available to all UN Member States as soon as possible, as it highlights information and best practices that can help States carry out their obligations. The time has come for a prompt solution to this impasse to allow the release of this report.

Mr. President, sanctions are only a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Iran enters into full compliance with all its international nuclear obligations and takes the steps necessary to resolve outstanding questions. In the face of Iran's deception and intransigence, the international community must speak with one voice, making clear that Iranian actions jeopardize international peace and security and will only further isolate the regime.

President Obama has been unequivocal with respect to our policy toward the Iranian nuclear program. As he has said, "There should be no doubt, the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." Iran's illicit nuclear activity - and the threat it poses to regional stability and the rules underpinning the nuclear non-proliferation regime - is one of the greatest global challenges we face.

Thank you, Mr. President.