Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC Briefing Under Agenda Item "Non-proliferation"

December 19, 2022

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Vassily Nebenzia

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Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations


We thank USG DiCarlo, Charge d’Affaires of the EU Mission Silvio Gonzato, as well as Facilitator of “Format 2231”, Permanent Representative of Ireland Ambassador Mythen for the briefings.

We note efforts that Ireland made to facilitate the work of Format 2231. Consensual adoption of the six-month report of the 2231 Facilitator appears to be a laudable conclusion of Ireland’s two-year term in this capacity.

However it is regrettable that when briefing us today, the Facilitator had no courage to point at the well-known root cause of all today’s problems with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the deal with subsequent violation of its provisions, including imposition of unilateral sanctions against Iran. We also regret that the Facilitator did not call on the US to get back to implementing the deal, having limited himself to calling upon all current participants of the JCPOA to keep observing it in good faith.

One can find the same serious drawback in the semi-annual report of the Secretary-General on issues of implementation of UNSC resolution 2231. The report almost puts an “equal sign” between the acts of the United States and of Iran. In general, it might seem that both the Secretary-General and our Western colleagues try to “blur over” the fact of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal back in 2018 as best they can. Altogether, this creates a wrong impression that the deal either started to collapse by itself or, what’s even more absurd, that Tehran is to blame for its current standstill.

Besides, we remind that now it should not be about exemptions from the restrictions, but rather about a full and verifiable lifting of the illegal discriminatory measures that the US imposed on Iran in violation of resolution 2231. Secretary-General’s report may give us a misleading idea that exemptions be enough.  

It is not the first time that we express our concern over the fact that the report mentions so-called “investigations” carried out by the UN Secretariat in the context of resolution 2231. Both in our letters and statements at the Security Council, we repeatedly emphasized that such actions per se, as well as incitement to them by some unscrupulous member states that we have witnessed recently (this meeting included) flagrantly violate both the provisions of Note S/2016/44 by the President of the Security Council of 16 January 2016, which clearly stipulates the mandate of the Secretariat with regard to the resolution in question, and also the Charter of the United Nations, in particular its Article 100.  Russia already submitted a detailed legal analysis of this aspect. We do hope that the Secretariat will not succumb to pressure of Western states and will not turn to violate the Charter. We underscore again that any results of Team 2231’s pseudo-investigations are legally null and void. Reference to allegedly existing practice of inspections is not relevant here – repetition of a violation cannot create a precedent.

At the same time, we note with satisfaction Secretary-General’s assessment that the JCPOA is the best tool for strengthening the non-proliferation regime and promoting regional security. We are also convinced that there is no alternative to the Plan and that it must become fully functional again as soon as possible.


JCPOA was made possible thanks to a professional, depoliticized, and constructive approach of all participants of the process. Its elaboration not only had a practical, but also an important political effect. Seven years ago our joint efforts proved it to the world that diplomacy works and that if there is enough political will, we can achieve results despite our contradictions.

However, the events that followed showed us that unfortunately, not everyone was ready to abide by the spirit of the JCPOA. The United States shattered the fundamental framework of the Iranian nuclear deal. We must note with regret that Washington keeps driving wedges in the negotiations process, and some other Western states follow suit.  

In the context of counter-productive actions of the American side, all steps that Tehran made afterwards were only a reaction to the violations and pressure on the part of the United States. Alas, our American colleagues do not seem to be going to “tamp down the ardor” and take real steps to prove that they are ready to get back to the JCPOA. Public statements by US officials make us doubt whether they truly mean it when proclaiming commitment to this goal. I particular, I mean the words that recovery of the deal did not stand on the US agenda at the moment.  


There is one more aspect that I would like to address. It has nothing to do with recovery of the JCPOA, but it is being actively proliferated by our Western colleagues – the alleged deliveries of Iranian UAVs to Russia for subsequent use in Ukraine. Those allegations are of a speculative and artificial nature. We are aware that Kiev’s representatives have not been able to provide any documented evidence to Tehran via bilateral channels to confirm that Russian military use drones of Iranian origin. Nevertheless, the United States and the European Union think it possible to drag the UN Secretariat into this plot without any good reason, only because of their allegations, and introduce sanctions against Russian and Iranian individuals and companies.

Interestingly, allegations against our two countries regarding the UAVs were first made the moment the Vienna talks entered the final stage. This clearly shows who is genuinely interested in a diplomatic solution and who is simply politicizing the discussion and undermining the very basis of the JCPOA. Unlike our Western colleagues, Russia and Iran strictly follow the provisions of UNSC resolution 2231.


Russia remains committed to the Vienna format and soonest recovery of the JCPOA. We agree with the Secretary-General that issues unrelated to the Plan must not get in the way of efforts aimed at safeguarding and implementing it.

Lately, we have come to hear more frequent claims that the JCPOA allegedly has become “outdated”, that it fails to reflect the effective balance of interests and should be replaced with a “better deal”. This logic is irresponsible and dangerous. Think of it: if talks to revive the JCPOA have lasted for almost two years already, how long is it going to take to negotiate a new hypothetical deal?  And who can warrant that it is attainable at all?

The work on the JCPOA recovery package is in an advanced stage at this moment, so it is important to not lose this progress. We see no unsurmountable obstacles for revitalizing the Plan. However now is a crucial, fragile, and responsible stage. Attempts to build up pressure on Iran, constant unmotivated proliferation of tension around JCPOA, far-fetched allegations that only aim at provoking the other participants can bury the prospects for JCPOA recovery. Should this approach prevail, it will mark a deplorable step back from the high standards of diplomacy which made the JCPOA possible back in the day. We call on the sides to demonstrate strategic restraint, adopt a pragmatic stance, and commit to compromise. In such case, acceptable-to-all solutions will surely be found.

Thank you.