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

Briefing on behalf of the EU High Representative – United Nations Security Council: Non-Proliferation (JCPOA)

New York, 22/12/2020 - 16:15, UNIQUE ID: 201221_17
Statements on behalf of the EU

22 December 2020, New York - Briefing by H.E. Mr. Olof Skoog, Head of the 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 his capacity as the Coordinator of the Joint Commission established by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to the Security Council Agenda item: Non-Proliferation

- CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY -

Mr President,

  1. Thank you for giving me the floor. It is an honour to be addressing the Council today on behalf of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr Josep Borrell, in his capacity as Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

 

  1. My first expression of gratitude and thanks goes to Secretary General António Guterres and to the Secretariat for its determination and professionalism in preparing the 10th report on the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2231.

 

  1. I also want to thank H.E. Philippe Kridelka Ambassador of Belgium - who ends his tenure as Facilitator for the implementation of Resolution 2231 - for the excellent cooperation. I look forward to work closely with the next chair. 

Mr President,

  1. As this year is coming to end, I recognise the tremendous challenges multilateral diplomacy has faced during the past months. The obvious example of this is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that has continued to be tested. Overall, nuclear proliferation remains a global threat with potentially worldwide consequences. It is in our collective interest but also our responsibility as members of the international community to address these challenges jointly. Ensuring the full implementation of existing robust agreements, such as the JCPOA, should be part of our joint efforts.

 

  1. As the Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, I am pleased to note that the Iran nuclear deal with now five years of age has withstood the pressure over the past years. The remaining participants have demonstrated their conviction and steadfast willingness to work diplomatically to preserve the deal. This determination to preserve the JCPOA and ensure its full and effective implementation by all sides was re-inforced again at the Joint Commission meeting on 16 December and yesterday at the informal meeting of JCPOA participants at ministerial level that I chaired.

 

  1. Such determination proves the importance and the value of the JCPOA.  It is solid evidence of the need to continue multilateral diplomacy and sustain and support multilateral agreements and institutions.

 

  1. The JCPOA is a key component of the global non-proliferation architecture that helps reduce regional and global security risks. The JCPOA has removed the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. It has done so in a verifiable way, as the agreement provides for an unprecedented amount of access and monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under Iran's comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol.

 

  1. It is crucial that the cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency remains intact.  Thanks to the Additional Protocol, the IAEA has access in both declared and undeclared sites in Iran, and in key facilities the IAEA has installed 24/7 on-line monitoring systems. It is important to remember that the Additional Protocol is implemented by Iran as part of its JCPOA commitments. Losing the JCPOA would also mean losing the Additional Protocol, the access rights granted to the IAEA and, accordingly the additional unique transparency measures provided in the JCPOA. Let me stress the EU’s deep appreciation for the work and the professionalism of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Its impartial and technical work is of utmost importance and is a cornerstone for the credibility of the JCPOA.

 

  1. There is no positive alternative to the JCPOA, which is the fruit of more than 12 years of negotiation, endorsed at the highest level by the international community and enshrined in the UNSC Resolution 2231. However, the agreement has clearly come under enormous pressure.  The EU deeply regrets the decision taken by the United States in May 2018 to withdraw from the JCPOA. The subsequent re-imposition of previously lifted US unilateral sanctions and the decision to discontinue granting nuclear waivers have hampered the full implementation of the deal. Full implementation of the agreement by all sides is crucial for all JCPOA participants and the international community to reap the benefits of this agreement. 

 

  1. It is against this background, I recognise that Iran continued to fully comply with the nuclear-related provisions for three and a half years, including for 14 months after the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and re-imposed unilateral sanctions. However, it is deeply worrying that Iran continues to decrease its nuclear related JCPOA commitments. We remain particularly concerned about Iran’s continued accumulation of low enriched uranium in excess of the JCPOA stockpile and enrichment level thresholds, its continued R&D with advanced centrifuges and their ongoing transfer underground, as well as the enrichment activities in Fordow. These activities are inconsistent with the nuclear-related provisions of the JCPOA. We call on Iran to reverse these activities and return to full implementation of its commitments.

 

  1. In addition, I have also noted that a new law has been adopted in Iran allowing for and supporting further steps towards an increase to 20% enrichment soon and additional measures. This is very worrying.  I appreciate the indications of the Iranian leadership that Iran is ready to return to full JCPOA implementation. I strongly encourage to ensure sufficient space for diplomacy in order to be able bring the JCPOA back on a path of full implementation in the near future.

 

  1. The work of the Procurement Channel remains important as an independent and transparent UN Security Council mechanism. I am pleased to note that new proposals are transmitted to the Security Council for decision and endorsement. The report of the Procurement Channel Working group, S/2020/1164, provides evidence of the channel as an important confidence building measure that gives assurances to Member states and private sector actors that transfers of goods and services for civil nuclear purposes are fully in line with the UNSC Resolution 2231.

 

  1. At the same time, I am also pleased to note that EU – Iran cooperation on the civil nuclear field under JCPOA Annex III continues, despite COVID challenges.

 

Mr President,

 

  1. Alongside the obligations under the nuclear related commitments for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the obligations of sanctions lifting remain central to the JCPOA. The EU lifted all its nuclear related sanctions upon the conclusions of the deal in 2015.

 

  1. The European Union remains fully committed to support efforts to normalise economic and trade relations. In this light, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) continues to have an important political and economic potential to facilitate legitimate trade with Iran, consistent with international laws and European regulations, as well as to support the needs of the Iranian population.

 

  1. Allow me to say a word in this context regarding the current COVID19 pandemic that has affected the entire world. However, the situation in Iran has been particularly devastating for the Iranian population. This has been partly aggravated by the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran has faced significant difficulties in procuring essential medical and protective equipment and medicines.  

 

Mr President,

  1. Earlier this year I took note of the US announcement and position regarding the statement of the so-called snapback mechanism under the UNSC Resolution 2231. As the Coordinator, it has been evident to me that the United States ceased its participation in the JCPOA on 8 May 2018 and did subsequently not attend any of the activities related to the JCPOA. The United States can, therefore, not be considered a JCPOA participant State and could not initiate the process of reinstating UN sanctions under the UN Security Council resolution 2231. I also note that the position of the majority of the members of this Council regard the US’ attempt to initiate the process of reinstating UN sanctions under the UN Security Council resolution 2231 having no legal basis.

 

  1. Resolution 2231 remains fully in force, including the sanctions lifting commitments under the JCPOA. In this context, the EU is grateful to the Secretariat for its balanced and factual approach in monitoring the implementation of resolution 2231. Such work requires continued support and adequate resources. 

 

Mr President,

  1. It is evident to the European Union that the JCPOA needs to be fully and effectively implemented by all and that ongoing implementation challenges, including on nuclear non-proliferation and sanctions lifting commitments need to be addressed. I am pleased that yesterday’s Ministerial meeting confirmed the unity of all participants to continue on this path. I am also very encouraged that all participants acknowledged the prospect of a return of the US to the JCPOA and expressed their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort.

 

  1. This leaves me with some confidence that we will be able to preserve and re-invigorate this achievement of multilateral diplomacy, which is an important contribution for security and stability in the region.

 

Thank you, Mr President!

 

Editorial Sections: