Briefing by H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida to the Security Council, Agenda item: Non-Proliferation

June 27, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Mr. President,

  1. Thank you for giving me the floor. I am honoured to address the Council today again on behalf of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in her capacity as the Coordinator of the Joint Commission established by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  2. First, I would like to thank Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as H.E. Mr. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Ambassador of the Netherlands, Facilitator for the implementation of UNSC resolution 2231 (2015) in 2018, for their excellent cooperation. Let me also express my gratitude to our colleagues of the UN Secretariat and the UN Security Council Affairs Division, for their unwavering support, in particular regarding the running of the Procurement Channel. I would also like to note my appreciation for their work in the preparation of the latest report of the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of UNSC resolution 2231.

    Mr. President,

  3. We are in a difficult situation, which had not been foreseen back in July 2015 when Resolution 2231 was unanimously adopted by the Security Council. While the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed as recently as 24 May – for the 11th time in a row – that Iran is respecting its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, US President Trump announced on 8 May that the United States withdraws from the agreement. The European Union, as well as all other remaining JCPOA participants, including at the last meeting of the Joint Commission on 25 May, have expressed deep regret at this decision.
  4. The preservation of the JCPOA is a key security interest for the European Union but also  for the international community as a whole. The unanimous endorsement of the JCPOA by the Security Council confirmed the importance of the JCPOA in ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme. The recent messages of support expressed by an overwhelming number of partners around the world, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and in the Pacific is yet another signal that the JCPOA needs to be preserved and fully implemented.
  5. The full implementation of the JCPOA prevents a nuclear arms race in the region, which is in no one's interest. There is no positive alternative to the JCPOA, which is the fruit of more than 12 years of negotiation, a 104-page document endorsed at the highest level by the international community. Undoubtedly it remains a standard of a multilateral nuclear non-proliferation agreement to which other initiatives still have to live up to.
  6. The EU has taken the position that, as long as Iran implements its nuclear-related obligations, we will remain firmly committed to the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA. This has also been echoed by the other remaining participants at the highest level, and I would like to express sincere thanks to the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China for their unwavering commitment to the nuclear deal. Their support in facing the global challenge of nuclear proliferation through the hard work of multilateral diplomacy cannot be overstated.

  7. The remaining parties of the JCPOA held a number of discussions on how to preserve the deal. We recognise that sanctions-lifting is an essential part of the agreement, and the Iranian people have a very understandable expectation that the benefits of the deal continue to be felt. The EU, together with partners, will continue to employ its best efforts to preserve legitimate financial and trade flows, preserving the interests of businesses acting in good faith and with the endorsement of the Security Council. The measures that we are putting in place at home are designed to allow these businesses and investors to continue to do their work as governed by international and European law.
  8. We are of course aware that within Iran a difficult debate is being held on the JCPOA and on the benefits that it brings for the country and its citizens. I am convinced that these benefits continue to be tangible, even though I cannot hide the fact that there will be a number of companies that do not see themselves in a position to continue their current engagement in Iran. The EU continues to explore with Iran the possibilities to preserve legitimate trade and investment as well as to continue our overall bilateral cooperation that has taken place since 2016.
  9. On the nuclear side, under the JCPOA, Iran is undergoing the most rigorous monitoring and verification regime in the world. The IAEA issued on 24 May its 11th report since Implementation Day which acknowledges, once again, Iran's full compliance with its commitments undertaken under JCPOA. This is further reflected by the large number of inspections on the ground. It goes without saying that at this juncture, it is critical to strictly follow the terms of the deal. This is essential to uphold the agreement and to continue to build trust.
  10. While the JCPOA deals with nuclear non-proliferation aspects, a number of serious issues outside of the deal continue to cast a shadow on our overall relationship with Iran. I regret that I have to stress again that the situation in the region has clearly worsened over the past few months. Regarding the situation in Yemen, the EU is seriously concerned about the recent intensification of the military operations, in particular in Hodeida, and the EU has urged all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and fully respect international humanitarian law. The EU has also engaged into a regional dialogue with the stakeholders to press upon the parties to support the UNSE envoy and resume political negotiations. The EU notes with concern the findings of the Secretary General's report and the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen report regarding the proliferation of ballistic missiles and technology. These actions feed regional tensions and threaten the safety and stability of Yemen's neighbours, freedom of navigation, and global sea trade.
  11. As you know, the EU has a long-standing track record of expressing its concern at the regional military build-up, including Iran's missile programme. The EU has repeatedly called upon Iran to refrain from activities which may deepen mistrust, such as ballistic missile tests, which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231, and the statements associated with these.
  12. The situation in the region including the proliferation of ballistic missiles needs to be addressed, as a priority. But these issues are distinct from the JCPOA. Dismantling a nuclear deal that is working would certainly not put us in a better position to discuss other issues. Walking away from a robust non-proliferation agreement will not provide a solution to regional tensions or ballistic missile proliferation.

    Mr. President,
  13. In addition to Iran's nuclear obligations, laid out in Annex I of the JCPOA, and on elements related to sanctions lifting, contained in Annex II, please allow me to reiterate the need to further engage on the basis of Annex III of the JCPOA, which foresees civil-nuclear cooperation. The EU sees this annex as key in the overall balance of the agreement and essential to the overall objective of ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme.
  14. The EU continues to engage with Iran, in a number of concrete projects, focused on nuclear safety and research, looking forward to a civil nuclear liability seminar to take place in Vienna mid-July and towards the third high-level seminar on nuclear cooperation and governance scheduled for November 2018, building further on the concept that civil-nuclear cooperation and the adherence to international norms on nuclear governance have to go hand in hand. While implementing projects on the ground and conducting research, Iran is also making steps towards its accession to the international nuclear regulatory framework. These steps need to be encouraged and supported further. All these are significant measures which enhance the credibility of the international community in the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme.

    Mr. President,
  15. Let me continue in this spirit by focusing on the reporting related to Annex B of UNSCR 2231, in particular on the work of the Procurement Working Group, responsible for reviewing  proposals by States seeking to engage in activities with Iran that are for nuclear and non-nuclear civilian end-uses.
  16. The Procurement Channel is a key pillar of the JCPOA. The Procurement Channel and the PWG will continue their activity, in the same spirit as we continue implementation of the other parts of the JCPOA. Since Implementation Day, the Procurement Working Group has been in full operation with the EU reaching out and coordinating its meetings with the aim to promote the Channel as the only mechanism for legitimate transfers of NSG listed items to Iran.  After the US withdrawal, the Group met twice in the new format of E3/EU +2 and Iran, and mandated the PWG Coordinator to continue the work of the Channel as the only alternative to attempts for irregular transfers. It is a fact that confidence in the Channel can only be built if new proposals are officially received and reviewed. I therefore find it positive that the Channel has currently five proposals under review.
  17. Transparency remains a guiding principle and a cornerstone of the JCPOA. According to paragraph 6.10 of the JCPOA Annex IV, the Joint Commission reports to the Security Council every six months on the status of the Procurement Working Group’s decisions and on any implementation issues. In this context, on 8 June 2018, the Coordinator of the Procurement Working Group submitted to the Facilitator, on behalf of the Joint Commission, its fifth bi-annual report. This report aims at providing the Facilitator and UNSC Members with an overview of the work undertaken by the Procurement Working Group from 1 December to 12 June 2018. The report has been circulated as a document of the Security Council (ref. S/2018/601).
  18. During this period, the Procurement Working Group has continued to discuss relevant topics, among which end-use, or common outreach messaging, or procedural aspects relevant to the smooth processing of the proposals. It has also intensified efforts to be as transparent as possible without compromising confidentiality, by reaching out to UN Member States and promoting a better understanding of its aims, objectives and its review process, embedded in the JCPOA's multi-layered system of checks and balances.
  19. An impressive outreach activity has been conducted during the past few years, and countries around the world are aware of the procedures of this Channel. Therefore, it is regrettable, as reported by the Secretary General, that some exports of listed items have been undertaken contrary to the provisions of paragraph 2 of Annex B to resolution 2231. We see the need to further familiarize countries and potential exporters with the Procurement Channel. To this end, our outreach efforts will continue, together with colleagues from the UNSC Secretariat and the Facilitator. Member States governmental export control stakeholders should continue supporting the engagement of their companies in any new transfers only through the official channels.
  20. Noting the challenges on the Procurement Channel in the wider JCPOA framework, we have no time for complacency. Immediate action is required to find a sustainable solution on the overall trade with Iran, since this would have also an important impact on the Procurement Channel.

    Mr. President,
  21. Should the momentum on the JCPOA's preservation and implementation be lost, this would be very detrimental to Iran, to all other remaining JCPOA parties, to the wider international community, and it would damage the trust in the effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy and non-proliferation architecture.
  22. This is why the EU calls once again on the international community to support this internationally endorsed common engagement. All remaining signatory parties need to implement the JCPOA in full and Resolution 2231 in all its dimensions. We need to continue to build on this achievement of multilateral diplomacy, which is the best hope for security and stability in the region. As ever, the Coordinator of the Joint Commission stands ready to work with UN bodies and Member States in order to support the objectives of the JCPOA.

Thank you, Mr. President.