(As delivered remarks)
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Ambassador Takasu, for your report.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed several significant developments on this critical issue over the past 90 days.
First, the IAEA Director-General's latest report on Iran has once again underscored Iran's refusal to comply fully with its international nuclear obligations and to cooperate fully with the IAEA. I'd like to highlight a few of the major points today.
Iran continues to expand its enrichment and heavy-water-related activities. It conducted a multi-year effort to construct a clandestine enrichment facility near the city of Qom—in contravention of its Security Council obligations. The IAEA has requested clarifications from Iran about several aspects of this facility.
The IAEA Secretariat concluded that Iran's failure to inform the IAEA of its construction of an undeclared enrichment facility near Qom was inconsistent with Iran's IAEA safeguards obligations and reduces confidence further about the absence of other nuclear facilities that have not been declared to the IAEA.
The IAEA Board of Governors responded to the report by adopting a resolution on Iran by an overwhelming majority on November 27. The resolution underscores the international community's increased, serious, and unified concern that Iran continues to defy its requirements and obligations under IAEA and Security Council resolutions. The resolution urges Iran to immediately suspend construction at Qom. And the resolution urges Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA in order to comply.
Second, the United States condemns the serious and repeated sanctions violations reported to the 1737 Committee. In the last year, there have been three reported incidents. All three involved the transfer of arms or ammunition from Iran to Syria. All three involved the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, IRISL. And all three are clear violations of paragraph five of Security Council Resolution 1747.
Iran has now been caught breaking the rules—repeatedly. In today's report, the Committee expressed its "grave concern" about the "apparent pattern of sanctions violations involving prohibited arms transfers from Iran." The 1737 Committee has documented in great detail Iran's habit of violating this Council’s resolutions. Such violations are unacceptable. The illicit smuggling of weapons from Iran to Syria is not just a sanctions violation; it is also an important factor in the destabilization of an already fragile Middle East.
We applaud the responsible actions that states have taken to detect and disrupt sanctions violations. In the two cases during this 90-day period—involving two vessels, the Hansa India and the Francop—the two member states took action in the face of suspicious cargo originating from Iran. In both cases, the member states off-loaded the arms-related materiel to ensure that it would not reach its intended destination or be returned to its origin. The Committee also has already called attention to its July 2009 Implementation Assistance Notice, which urged member states to "exercise extra vigilance with respect to [the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines’] role in violations of these resolutions."
The scope of these violations is alarming. On board the Francop were found 36 containers of arms and related materiel, including 690 122mm rockets, around 12,000 anti-tank and mortar shells, more than 20,000 fragmentation grenades, and more than half a million rounds of ammunition. Tons of bullet casings were found on board the Hansa India.
Mr. President, we commend the Committee for the diligence it has shown in carrying out its mandate. The effectiveness of Security Council sanctions depends on the follow-up of the Council, the Committee, and, ultimately, all member states. We must ensure that these sanctions are rigorously enforced to ensure that destabilizing weapons are not allowed to flow from Iran to other parts of the Middle East and elsewhere.
As the cases we have discussed here today amply demonstrate, all states should give extra scrutiny to all shipping between Iran and Syria, especially if the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines is involved. States should also report any information about sanctions violations to the 1737 Committee. We look to the Committee to consider options for effective action to prevent new incidents, and we look forward to its ideas on ways that member states can better implement these measures.
My third point, Mr. President, is to note that these recent events—the discovery of the Qom facility, Iran's announced intention to build new enrichment plants, and Iran's prohibited arms transfers—underscore the renewed urgency of full and robust implementation of Resolutions 1737, 1747, and 1803. Member states need to redouble their own enforcement efforts, and the 1737 Committee should be more vigilant, engaged, and active. More rigorous implementation of these sanctions will make it harder for Iran to acquire the technology and assistance to support its prohibited proliferation activities. It will make it harder for Iran to smuggle weapons to extremists and nonstate actors. It will make it harder for Iran to abuse the international financial system to fund its proliferation activities. And full implementation will make it harder for Iran to build any more covert nuclear-related facilities—such as the site near Qom—beyond the gaze of international inspectors.
The United States, along with our P5+1 partners, continues to pursue a dual-track approach of engagement, while increasing the pressure on Iran to fulfill its obligations to suspend all proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities and to cooperate with the IAEA. We have repeatedly expressed our strong preference for resolving concerns over Iran's nuclear program through diplomatic negotiations.
To build confidence and respond to Iran's request to meet its own humanitarian and medical needs, the IAEA—with support from Russia, France, and the United States—made a proposal to respond positively to Iran's request for nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, despite Iran's continuing violation of this Council’s resolutions and Iran’s noncompliance with IAEA requirements on its nuclear program. Iran's failure thus far to take advantage of this opportunity raises serious questions about its nuclear intentions—questions that deserve urgent international attention.
Mr. President, the United States remains firmly committed to a peaceful resolution to international concerns with Iran's nuclear program. We also remain willing to engage Iran to work toward a diplomatic solution to the nuclear dilemma it has created for itself—if Iran will only choose such a course. But engagement cannot be a one-way street. Iran must conclusively demonstrate a similar willingness to engage constructively and address the serious issues associated with its nuclear program. The international community stands firm in its conviction that Iran must comply with its international obligations. Should Iran continue to fail to meet its obligations, the international community will have to consider further actions.
Thank you, Mr. President.