Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Briefing: United Nations Security Council: Non-Proliferation (Iran/JCPOA)

New York, 12/12/2018 - 15:30, UNIQUE ID: 181212_11
Statements on behalf of the EU

12 December 2018, New York - Briefing by Mr. Serge Christiane, Chargé d'affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, on behalf of the 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 to the Security Council Agenda item: Non-Proliferation

12 December 2018, Mr. Serge Christiane briefs the UN Security Council (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)


- Check against delivery –


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 van Oosterom, Ambassador of the Netherlands, who is serving as the Facilitator for the implementation of UNSC resolution 2231 (2015) in 2018, for the excellent cooperation throughout the year. Let me also express my gratitude to our colleagues in the UN Security Council Affairs Division for their unwavering support and for the excellent cooperation 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,

  1. As we approach the third year after Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), we should remind ourselves of the essence and scope of this agreement. The JCPOA is a nuclear agreement – one that is working and delivering on its goal which is no other than ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.  This third anniversary should also remind us of the fact that diplomacy does work, and that international agreements can deliver results even on the most sensitive issues. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed in 13 consecutive reports that Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments. On this our position remains unchanged: as long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear-related commitments in full, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the agreement. For us the non-proliferation benefits of the JCPOA are clear and based on comprehensive scientific analysis and break-out time calculations. The JCPOA has significantly rolled back the Iranian nuclear programme and ensures Iran does not acquire material or equipment to develop a nuclear weapon. It is for these reasons the JCPOA enjoys and continues to enjoy wide and full support of the broader international community.
  2. However, the JCPOA faces considerable challenges following the withdrawal by the United States and the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran. The EU and all 28 Member States deeply regretted these US decisions. At their last Council meeting of 10 December 2018, the 28 EU Foreign Ministers reiterated their full commitment to the continued implementation of the deal as long as Iran continues to implement its commitments in full. The EU also does not see any other credible peaceful alternative. Dismantling the agreement would not only destroy years of diplomatic efforts, endorsed by this very body in its Resolution 2231, but would also undermine other key multilateral negotiations in the nuclear field (North Korea) and beyond.
  3. While the EU strongly welcomes Iran’s continued implementation of is nuclear related commitments, it is essential that the agreement continuous to work for all its participants, including by delivering tangible economic benefits to the people of Iran. This has also been echoed by the other remaining participants to the JCPOA and I would like to express sincere thanks for their unwavering commitment to the nuclear deal.
  4. It is in this spirit that the JCPOA participants acknowledged at the recent ministerial Joint Commission meetings on 6 July (Vienna) and 24 September (NY) that sanctions lifting is an essential part of the deal and they reiterated their commitment towards the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas.
  5. The EU is very concerned about the deteriorated economic situation of the people of Iran. The Iranian economy is facing strong challenges. We are also concerned about the challenges the Iranian people face in having access to basic goods, including vital medicines. We are also fully cognisant of the fact that this situation leads to a difficult domestic debate in Iran on the JCPOA and its future.
  6. In this context, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and the Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministers of Germany, the UK and France stated their commitment in their joint statement of 2 November to advance the intensive work led by the E3 with the support of the EU to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle. The aim of this initiative is to facilitate trade payment and to provide the necessary sovereign reassurances to the market participants engaged in legitimate business with Iran. This is in addition to a number of EU measures that was already taken in August this year regarding the update of the Blocking Statute and of the lending mandate of the European Investment Bank.
  7. I want to be very clear that the European initiative to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle is about respecting the nuclear deal's commitments, including on sanctions lifting, in full accordance with resolution 2231 and the European law. It is not directed against any state or to circumvent unilateral measures.
  8. While the JCPOA deals with nuclear non-proliferation aspects, a number of serious issues outside of the deal continue to cast a shadow. The EU notes with concern the findings of the Secretary General's report regarding Iranian activities in relation to the restrictive measures contained in annex B of the resolution and in particular restrictions on ballistic missile related activities and transfers. These actions feed regional tensions and threaten the safety and stability in the region.
  9. 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.
  10. The situation in the region including the proliferation of ballistic missiles needs to be addressed, as a priority and the EU welcomes the Secretariat’s further examinations. The EU still has restrictive measures in place to that effect. 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 or will not provide any immediate solution. The EU also strongly believes that addressing these difficult issues is done in a more effective manner through dialogue. The EU hosted the fourth round of EU/E4 discussions on regional issues with Iran on 10 December. The main focus was Yemen and Syria, both sides publicly acknowledging the importance of the UN-facilitated talks in Sweden and agreeing to work on confidence building measures in support of the UN Special Envoy. This indicates that our dialogue with Iran is yielding concrete results. 

Mr. President,

  1. Annex III of the JCPOA addresses civil nuclear cooperation with Iran.  Annex III was carefully crafted and it plays a key role in the overall balance of the agreement. The JCPOA is not just about constraints on Iran's nuclear programme. It is also about cooperation – broader long-term re-engagement with Iran – through which we can understand Iran's civil nuclear needs better, and gradually increase our confidence in Iran's nuclear programme. This makes the agreement more durable in time.
  2. Cooperation is the right path for us, and for that reason, every step in the implementation of Annex III is a positive one. The EU has launched several projects and actions in support of Annex III since Implementation Day. To this effect, we recently organised the 3rd EU-Iran High-level Seminar on International Nuclear Cooperation.  The objective of the Seminar was to build on previous discussions and the understanding that international nuclear cooperation and nuclear governance are mutually reinforcing.
  3. Established under Annex IV of the JCPOA, the Procurement Channel remains a unique non-proliferation and confidence-building instrument.  It can help prevent the misuse of nuclear or dual-use items and ensures that exports of such items are consistent with the JCPOA. We expect that all Security Council members will continue to support the preservation of this Channel in line with resolution 2231. It is a positive signal that the Channel has also received proposals after the re-imposition of US sanctions.
  4. 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 issue. In this context, on 30 November 2018, the Coordinator of the Procurement Working Group submitted to the Facilitator, on behalf of the Joint Commission, its sixth bi-annual report. The report has been circulated as a document of the Security Council (ref. S/2018/1070). 
  5. An impressive amount of outreach has been conducted during the past few years, and countries around the world are aware of the procedures of this Channel. Our outreach efforts will continue, together with colleagues from the UNSC Secretariat and the Facilitator.

Mr. President,

  1. We should not forget that the JCPOA is a nuclear agreement. It is working and delivering on its intended goal. This is why the EU is united with so many countries in support of this deal and calls once again on the international community to continue to support this internationally endorsed agreement.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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