Thank you very much indeed, Mr President, and thank you to our three briefers today. This is an important issue, so thank you for convening the debate.
For the United Kingdom’s part, we welcome the thorough and well evidenced report on the ongoing implementation of UNSCR 2231. We’re aware of the criticism that has been made of the report in some quarters, but we consider the scope and the methodology of the report to be both appropriate and robust. And we offer our thanks to the Secretariat for their continued work to ensure the proper implementation of this important resolution for regional and international peace and security.
Mr President, my intervention like the issue itself comes in two halves: what happens with the JCPoA and what happens in respect of the region and regional stability. With respect to the JCPoA, we join the Secretary-General and my French colleague in regretting the US decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to re-impose US sanctions on Iran. For the United Kingdom’s part, we remain committed to the nuclear deal. It is an essential part of the global non-proliferation architecture and furthermore, the deal is working. As we’ve just heard, the IAEA latest report confirms that Iran continues to comply with its nuclear obligations under the deal, as indeed it has since implementation day. This is consistent with the previous ten IAEA reports and we believe it demonstrates the Iranian commitment to the nuclear deal. We expect this commitment to continue. We expect Iran to continue to abide by her obligations under the deal. In return, the United Kingdom, together with the remaining participants in the deal, will take necessary steps to ensure that Iran continues to receive economic benefits from sanctions relief. We welcome the update on the activities of the Procurement Channel. The UK fully supports and we remain committed to the Procurement Channel process. While the JCPoA remains vital for our national security, and indeed for the stability of the Middle East, it is only one part of the efforts towards long term stability and peace in the region. The United Kingdom shares the Secretary-General’s view that issues not directly related to the nuclear deal should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement. We believe that these issues can most effectively be addressed while the nuclear deal remains in place.
Mr President, I’ll now turn to the second half of today’s debate: the regional picture. I listened very carefully to the briefing given by the Undersecretary-General, in particular, but also by the two other speakers. It is true that the Secretary-General’s latest report contains concerning reports of attempted shipments to Iran of certain dual-use items without the necessary prior approval from the Security Council. We call on the United Nations to investigate these alleged transfers further and to report its findings to this Council.
We also note the Secretary-General’s assessment that ballistic missile technology used by the Houthis in Yemen was transferred from Iran as previously set out in the Yemen Panel of Experts report. And this chimes with our own assessment. The United Kingdom considers these transfers to be in contravention of UNSCRs 2231 and 2216. The proliferation of missile technology is destabilising for the region. It needs to cease. In the interest of Iran, in the interest of regional stability, and in the interest of international peace and security.
And in addition we remain concerned by Iran’s testing of missiles that are designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
Mr. President, it wasn’t my intention today to talk about the wider Iranian role in the region, but I would just like to echo what my US colleagues said about some of the activities undertaken by Iran in places like Lebanon and like Syria.
Mr President, I’d like to be very clear about the United Kingdom’s position. Iran is an ancient, respected and mature civilized nation. She has legitimate security interests in the region and she deserves a proper place in the global multilateral system. However, the way she pursues and prosecutes these interests is too often destabilising and too often threatening to her neighbours and threatening to others, including those of us in Europe. Supplying missiles for attacks on regional neighbours has no legitimacy. Transferring threatening technology has no legitimacy, nor does importing dual use equipment without the Security Council’s prior approval. And while we recognise Iran’s national security interests, there is no legitimacy or justification for Iran testing missiles that are designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Furthermore, diverting Iran’s public finances into such adventures retards her own ability to modernise her economy and deliver services to her people.
Mr. President, after 9/11, which struck this city, I worked very closely with the Iranian government. We were on the same side in combating terrorism. It’s a matter of lasting regret that Iran has chosen a different course of action in the intervening years. What I would like to do is to join others in taking the opportunity today to urge Iran to refrain from the destabilising behaviour that the report outlines and that we have talked about today, and in particular, to make a material contribution to the political process in Yemen that the UN is so bravely undertaking.
To conclude, Mr President, the United Kingdom’s position on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is clear. It is a critical agreement that makes the world a safer place. It is vital for our security and we remain committed to it. To that end, the United Kingdom, and we believe our European partners, will continue to work with the remaining parties to the deal to maintain it.