Iran’s response to UNSC sanctions

Originally published 12/24/06:

The words of Javad Zarif, the Iranian Ambassador to the UN in response to the UN Security Council Resolution placing sanctions on Iran.  Read it and tell me if it doesn’t make good common sense to you. 

Javad Zarif.gif

JAVAD ZARIF ( Iran) said that today was a sad day for the non-proliferation regime.  Only a few days ago, Israel’s Prime Minister had boasted about the country’s nuclear weapons, but, instead of raising an eyebrow — let alone addressing that serious threat to international peace and security and the non-proliferation regime — the Security Council was imposing sanctions on a member of the NPT that, unlike Israel, had never attacked nor threatened to use force against any United Nations member.  Also unlike Israel, Iran had categorically rejected development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on ideological and strategic grounds, and it was prepared to provide guarantees that it would never withdraw from the NPT.  It had placed all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, and it had fully implemented the Additional Protocol for more than two years and stated its readiness to resume its implementation.


He said that Iran had allowed more than 2,000 “person days of IAEA scrutiny” of all of its related — and even unrelated — facilities, resulting in reported statements by the Agency on the absence of any evidence of diversion.  His country had also voluntarily suspended its lawful enrichment activities for more than two years, as verified by the Agency, in order to build confidence and provide ample opportunity to find a mutually acceptable solution, if that were ever the intention of its negotiating partners.  It had presented various far-reaching proposals to ensure permanent non-diversion, and it had consistently called for time-bound and unconditional negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution, a call that had been repeated yesterday by Iran’s Foreign Minister.


The same Governments that had pushed the Council to take “groundless punitive measures” against Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme had systematically prevented it from taking any action to nudge the Israeli regime towards submitting itself to the rules governing the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said.  By so doing, they had provided it with wide latitude, even encouragement, to indulge freely in the clandestine development and unlawful possession of nuclear weapons and public boasting about it, with impunity.  The Israeli regime had an unparalleled record of non-compliance with Security Council resolutions — if that was the criteria today — and a “long and dark” catalogue of crimes and atrocities, such as occupation, aggression, militarism, State terrorism, crimes against humanity and apartheid.  Nuclear weapons in such hands posed a uniquely grave threat to regional and international peace and security.  The reversal of the hypocritical policy of “strategic ambiguity” had removed any excuse, if ever there had been one, for continued inaction by the Council.


To put it into perspective, he said that today’s resolution could only remind the Iranian people of the historic injustices the Council had done to them in the past six decades.  It was reminiscent of the attempt made by the Council to punish the Iranian people for their nationalization of their oil industry, described as a threat to peace.  It was also a reminder of the Council’s indifference in the face of a military coup, organized by two permanent members, which had restored the dictatorship.  It refreshed the memory of the time when the Council did not consider the massive invasion of Iran by the former Iraqi regime as a threat to international peace and security, and refused to even call on the invading army to withdraw from Iranian territory.  It also brought back the horrors of the long years when the Council had turned a blind eye to the extensive and brutal use of chemical weapons against Iranian civilians and soldiers and, by so doing, shouldered responsibility for tens of thousands of Iranians who continued to suffer and perish as a result.


He said that bringing Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme to the Council by a few permanent members, particularly the United States, was not aimed at a solution or negotiations.  Their stated objective had always been to use the Council as an instrument of pressure and intimidation to compel Iran to abandon its rights.  Reviewing the motivation behind the presentation of the so-called package of incentives given to Iran, he said that the United States and the “EU-3” had never even taken the trouble of studying various Iranian proposals, as those negotiating partners were, from the very beginning, bent on abusing the Council with the threat of sanctions as an instrument to pressure and compel Iran to abandon the exercise of its right under the NPT to peaceful nuclear technology.  It was now an “open secret” that their objective from the negotiations had never been to find a solution, but to impose and then prolong, perpetuate and suspended Iran’s rights.


Suspension was not a solution, he stressed.  At best, it was a temporary stop-gap measure to allow time to find a real solution.  Such a suspension had been in place for two years, and IAEA had repeatedly verified in each and every report, from November 2003 to February 2006, that Iran had fully suspended what it had agreed to suspend.  So, Iran had a suspension for two years, and on-and-off negotiations for three.  Reviewing all of the proposals ignored by the United States and the “EU-3” in the negotiations, he said that what they had wanted, despite what they had told Iran, was — “and still is” — that Iran should undertake a binding commitment not to pursue fuel cycle activities.  He was here today because his country had not accepted that “unlawful demand”.  At the same time, his country was prepared to “go to any length to allay their so-called proliferation concerns, in spite of the fact that we all know they are no more than unfounded and self-serving sheer excuses”, he said.


To the point that the sponsors said they did not trust Iran’s “intentions”, he said the problem was that their “intention-o-meter” had a rather abysmal record of chronic malfunction.  The former United States Director of Central Intelligence, Robert Gates, had claimed before Congress in 1992 that Iran was trying to acquire a nuclear-weapon capability, and had added that that goal was unlikely to be achieved before the year 2000.  Later, in November 1992, a draft national intelligence estimate by the CIA had concluded that Iran was making progress on a nuclear-arms programme and could develop a nuclear weapon by 2000.  Now, the same intelligence establishment was saying not before 2015.  Accusing Iran of having “the intention” to acquire nuclear weapons had, since the early 1980s, been a tool used to deprive Iran of any nuclear technology, even a light water reactor or fuel for the United States-built research reactor.


He said he wondered which “Iranian intention” or “proliferation concern” had prompted the main proponents of today’s resolution to prevent Iran, over the past 27 years, from buying civilian aircraft or even their spare parts, thereby jeopardizing the lives and safety of Iranian civilians, whom they hypocritically tried to court now, to no avail.  He told delegations to read “the dangerous divisive statement by the UK Prime Minister” or the 23 August report by the Intelligence Committee of the United States House of Representatives on Iran’s nuclear programme, if they wanted to understand the intention of the proponents of the resolution.


Iran firmly believed that the days of weapons of mass murder had long passed; that those inhumane instruments of indiscriminate slaughter had not brought internal stability or external security for anyone, and that they would not be able to do so in the future, he said.  Unlike some who despised the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international law in general, Iran had a high stake in preserving, fully implementing, strengthening and universalizing the NPT.  Today’s decision did exactly the opposite, because it was championed by a non-member of the Treaty, coupled with its main benefactor, which made no secret of its contempt for that and other disarmament instruments.  No one had forgotten last year’s World Summit, at which even the word “disarmament” had been struck from the Outcome text by the famous “red pen”.  The days of bullying, pressure and intimidation by some nuclear-weapon holders were gone.  Iran was told it needed to build confidence, but confidence could only be built through respect for and non-discriminatory application of law.  International law and international treaties could not be the subject of arbitrary, fluctuating and self-serving reinterpretations, even if they were imposed through resolutions.  Such a precedent was dangerous for everyone.


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