We are also pleased at the Committee and the Panel of Experts have been active in this regard, and that there is indeed a growing will among the international community to enforce these sanctions effectively. And yet, at the same time, we expressed our dismay and concern that there are still some members of the Sanctions Committee that are not amenable at this stage to the publication on the website of the Panel of Experts’ latest report, which, in our view is a failure of the mandate of the Committee. It violates the principles and the purposes of transparency for which the Committee and the Panel were established, and we will continue to press for the full and timely publication of the Panel of Experts’ report.
And I’m happy to take a few questions.
QUESTION: The report this morning was a little opaque. Are there any serious violations of sanctions going on that you think should be pursued more publicly, one? And two, on sanctions violations, is anything being done about the reports coming out that maybe China was trying to sell arms to Libya as late as July?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, with respect to Iran, there have been numerous reported violations over the course of the past year, particularly in the realm of arm shipments that the committee has, and the panel have, investigated. We were among those that reported to the Committee our view that the ballistic missile launches that we have seen of late is a violation of paragraph nine. So there have been a variety of violations, but I think the good news is that they are being reported, tracked, and—particularly with respect to the arms shipments—very active efforts by the Committee, the Panel, and indeed member states to address those violations.
With respect to Libya, we have seen the reports in the press and the statements by the Chinese government. Obviously we have a strong stake, as do members of the Security Council and all members of the United Nations, in the effective and full enforcement of the 1970 regime, including—if not especially—the arms embargo. We will look to China to continue to explain and clarify its understanding of what did or didn’t transpire. And at this point we will work with them and through the Committee to ensure that the arms embargo is fully respected.
QUESTION: Madame Ambassador, two questions, first on Syria and what’s happening with the negotiations in the Council on the two rival draft resolutions. We hear there have been some discussions and perhaps not as much progress. And could you also, on Libya, tell us what you’re expecting in terms of a resolution that would mandate a new UN Mission for Libya?
AMBASSADOR RICE: With respect to Syria, as you know we continue to have ongoing discussion both in the full Council, at the expert level, at the ambassadorial level, and in subgroups between and among members of the Council. Our view is that it is past time for a strong resolution that contains meaningful measures to increase pressure on the Assad regime. And we are working with partners from Europe and elsewhere toward that end. We think there is a solid base of support for additional measures. There’s not yet unanimity. And there are obviously some countries that prefer to go slow with respect to certain measures. And we’ll continue our discussion both here and in capitals towards the aim of trying to accomplish a meaningful resolution.
With respect to Libya, we will obviously look forward to the briefing of the Council by Special Representative Ian Martin, which we expect in the coming days. We’ll want to take full account of the specifics of his recommendations in the Secretary General’s report, and we will incorporate those into a draft resolution for Council consideration. And I think that resolution will probably have different elements to it, principally to begin to express the Council’s support and approval of the initial steps that the United Nations intends to take to put a presence on the ground in Libya consistent with its engagement with and the requests of the Transitional National Council. We will also be looking at updating the sanctions regime to take account of recent developments and to facilitate what we have been doing successfully through the Sanctions Committee, which is to begin a rational and transparent process of unfreezing assets for use by the Libyan people. And obviously a statement in which the Council acknowledges the developments that have transpired over the last weeks and months and updates the Council’s posture with respect to Libya.
QUESTION: Ambassador, as the 1737 Committee report showed, or as it seems to show, violations continue. You and some of the European members of the Council were referring to specific incidents of violations over and over again. Isn’t it time to…for the Council therefore to consider the possibility of expanding the sanctions, possibly a new sanctions resolution? Really, it seems as if Iran has really been on the back burner while we’ve been focusing on other crises in the Middle East.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Iran is by no means on the back burner for the United States. As I said in the Council today, we remain very focused on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This is a top priority of US policy and remains so. We think these sanctions, particularly those contained in 1929, are very strong and have been very effective in terms of constraining both the financial and technical means that are available to Iran to pursue its nuclear program. That said, it’s no surprise and has been the case since the first sanctions regime that Iran has sought to try to evade and violate sanctions. The good news is that they’re frequently being caught. And we have a strong, unified effort among member states of all sorts and all continents to track, expose and confiscate weapons shipments that have been found to violate 1929 and its predecessors. So we will continue with a strong focus on our dual-track policy of pressure and diplomacy. We have consistently strengthened our own national sanctions over the course of the last year as well. We’ll continue to do so and obviously we will not exclude at some stage the potential for further action here in the Council.
QUESTION: …in Blue Nile state, it’s said that the UN can’t even get humanitarian aid in there. What, I’m wondering, what’s going to be tried to be done at the Council? And also how this relates to the US moves described by Ali Karti as normalizing relations, being taken off the state sponsor of terrorism list. Is there some…how are these related? And also there’s this incident in South Sudan where Benedict Sunnoh, who is the head human rights official in South Sudan, was beaten by South Sudanese police, hospitalized. This was criticized by Navi Pillay. I didn’t know if the US had any view of that, and views it as a one off, or as a bad sign?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, first of all we’re very concerned about the deteriorating situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. We have expressed our condemnation and outrage at the escalation of violence, particularly the aerial bombardments that have intensified by the government against various targets, particularly civilian targets. We see the fighting and the spread of the fighting to Blue Nile as a very troubling development, particularly when coupled with Southern Kordofan and what’s transpiring in Darfur. And we have underscored particulary to the government but to both parties the necessity of cessation of the fighting, full humanitarian access, and a negotiated solution to deal with the underlying issues, which have been put aside by the government. There was a framework agreement, as you know, negotiated and agreed by both sides with respect to Southern Kordofan. It has been abrogated by the government. These are the sorts of political agreements that have to underlie a lasting political solution in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. We’re going to continue to push for that.
With respect to the reported allegations against the UN human rights official, obviously we strongly condemn any excessive use of force by authorities in any case, in this case in South Sudan, against civilians of any sort. Now we don’t know fully the details of what transpired in this instance. We understand that the United Nations is looking into it carefully. From a US point of view we have expressed our grave concern to the Southern Sudanese authorities about the treatment of this individual regardless of the circumstances preceding and in that moment may have been. And I think SRSG Johnson has also conveyed the United Nations strong concerns.