Persian Gulf: It Is Necessary to Work to Stabilize the Regional Situation

Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Riviere, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council
October 20, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

Mr. President,

I thank Russia for organising this debate. I also thank the Secretary General and the speakers for their presentations, and the countries of the region and the regional organisations present for their participation.

This debate is important because the risk of destabilization in the region is real, given the many challenges the region is facing.

Security challenges with the risk of nuclear proliferation, illegal arms acquisition and transfer, terrorism and several conflicts at the gates of the Gulf which are sometimes the scene of rivalry between powers from the region and elsewhere.

Political challenges as well, with the peoples of the region, particularly young people and women, aspiring to peace, democracy, respect for human rights and economic and social well-being, which insecurity, DCOVID-19 and climate change are putting to the test.

In the face of these challenges, it is necessary to work to stabilise the regional situation by rejecting polarisation and to work together to build the regional security architecture of tomorrow.

To do so, international law and commitments must first be respected. I would like to stress two points in this regard.

First, the JCPoA and Resolution 2231. They have provided a concrete and effective solution to the Iranian nuclear proliferation crisis. France welcomes the fact that this Council almost unanimously reaffirmed its support for the JCPoA in August and September. Resolution 2231 must be fully implemented by everyone. Iran must thus put an immediate end to the violations of its nuclear commitments and take no further measures that would further aggravate the nuclear situation. Similarly, restrictions on the development of missiles that are nuclear weapon delivery systems must be respected.

Secondly, I would like to recall that the expiry of the conventional arms embargo does not in any way mean that all restrictions on the supply, transfer or purchase of arms to or from Iran are now completely lifted. Certain restrictive measures, starting with the European arms embargo and the planned restrictions on missile transfers, will be maintained in accordance with the JCPoA and will remain in force until October 2023. We will ensure that these provisions are strictly respected. We also call on all participants in the JCPoA, as well as possible suppliers and recipients from Iran, to exercise the utmost restraint and responsibility in considering the consequences that possible transfers could have for regional security and stability, and to draw the necessary conclusions.

The Security Council has also strictly controlled arms and missile transfers in the region to non-State actors in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon and has adopted other general restrictions on such transfers in the framework of Resolution 1540. These regimes must be fully respected. Their violation, in particular by Iran, has been widely documented, including in the latest report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231. Together with our E3 partners, we also strongly condemned, just over a year ago, the attacks on the facilities of Saudi Aramco, for which Iranian responsibility was established. All of these violations and actions are unacceptable. They must stop and we must collectively consider how to stop them. Regional security and the authority of Security Council decisions are at stake.

We are continuing our efforts in this regard, to identify concrete and ambitious solutions to meet the challenges posed by the lifting of the UN embargo.

In order to work to de-escalate tensions, a framework for structured dialogue could make it possible to break the spiral of mistrust that threatens the security and stability of the region. It could help develop regional and bilateral initiatives on transparency and confidence building measures.

The Secretary-General has every legitimacy to organise this regional dialogue and to propose options for moving forward towards the establishment of a security architecture in the region.

With its European partners, France is already involved in this collective work. Almost a year ago we launched the European initiative for maritime surveillance in the Strait of Hormuz and we will continue, on this basis, again with our European partners at the forefront, to support the regional dialogue for stability in the Gulf.

Finally, working for security in the Gulf requires a commitment in good faith by all regional and international players to resolve the crises on its doorstep, which often reflect or even deepen regional tensions.

Putting an end to the war in Yemen would first and foremost lead to finally putting an end to the suffering of the Yemeni population and would also help to set in motion a positive dynamic in the region. We call on the parties to cease hostilities, and to engage in good faith in the talks led by Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to reach a political, comprehensive and inclusive agreement under the aegis of the United Nations. Peace in Yemen is possible. And if all the countries gathered here today work together, it can become a reality.

International cooperation is precisely what made it possible to defeat Daech militarily in Iraq and Syria, in support of the Iraqi authorities and the Syrian democratic forces. The fight must continue because the terrorist threat persists and in some places is becoming increasingly present again. Iraq must now also be supported in its efforts to achieve stability, development and reform. It is this support that my authorities expressed yesterday to the Iraqi Prime Minister during his visit to France and which must be shared by all players, first and foremost by Iraq’s neighbours. And it is essential to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis that complies with the parameters of Resolution 2254 and is fully inclusive. Faced with the humanitarian catastrophe that has characterised this conflict for the past 10 years, Russia and Iran have a responsibility to put pressure on the Syrian regime to take this path.

Finally, I would like to say a word about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is undermining regional stability. France welcomes the normalisation of relations between Israel and two Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. We welcome its contribution to Israel’s security and to peace and security in the region. But we hope that it will also contribute equally to the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with a view to implementing the two-state solution and to Israel’s definitive renunciation of its plans to annex all or part of the West Bank.

The task is immense, but it is essential. It will have to be carried out gradually because confidence is built step by step on the basis of deeds. You can count on the commitment of France and its European partners to contribute to it.