Mr. President, Iran's illicit nuclear program presents a grave threat to international peace and security. Today we are confronted with an unsustainable and dangerous status quo. Without swift and serious progress to resolve the international community's doubts about Iran's nuclear program, there will be further instability in an already tense region.
Since our last meeting, the Director General of the IAEA has released yet another report, which once again affirmed that Iran is not complying with its international nuclear obligations and is not cooperating fully with the IAEA.
The Director General reports that Iran continues to make progress in its nuclear program. Iran has begun to enrich uranium to the near 20-percent level at the previously covert Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, which is buried in a hardened bunker underground near Qom. Iran has tripled its capacity to produce such uranium, which is much closer to weapons grade.
In spite of good-faith outreach by the IAEA, Iran has chosen to stonewall it rather than to offer any real cooperation. Iran twice denied IAEA requests to visit a nuclear facility at Parchin, where the Director General reported that Iran may have conducted high-explosive tests relating to the development of a nuclear weapon. We all know what full cooperation with the IAEA looks like. Mr. President, this is not even minimal cooperation.
The Director General’s latest report illustrates Iran’s continued disregard for the Council’s clear demands, most notably that it suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and heavy-water related activities. This Council therefore must take the necessary steps to hold Iran accountable.
The 1737 Committee and the Panel of Experts are critically important to this effort. Both the Committee and the Panel must fully and robustly carry out their mandates, including by implementing the Panel's recommendations and responding to reported sanctions violations. Better implementation of existing sanctions can help slow down Iran's nuclear progress, affording the world more time to resolve our concerns.
We therefore welcome the 1737 Committee’s meeting last month to discuss sanctions violations and to receive a briefing on certain Iranian ballistic-missile-related activities that are being conducted in violation of Resolution 1929. We are pleased to see that there has been some progress on the Committee’s response to reported sanctions violations over the past 90 days, although more needs to be done. We are alarmed that a majority of the violations reported to the Committee involved illicit transfers of arms and related material from Iran to Syria, where the Asad regime is using them to violently repress the Syrian people. We urge the Committee to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities found to be involved in sanctions violations.
We appreciate the Panel's ongoing efforts and look forward to its upcoming Final report and recommendations. My government remains seriously concerned that the Panel's 2011 Final Report has not yet been released to the full UN membership. Ten months have passed since the report was submitted. There is simply no excuse for members to continue to delay and obstruct its release. We strongly urge that this issue be resolved before our next session.
Mr. President, the United States remains determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And we remain committed to doing so through a comprehensive diplomatic approach, which includes substantive engagement and unprecedented pressure.
As part of this strategy, on March 6, the European Union High Representative, on behalf of the P5+1, offered to resume talks with Iran as part of a sustained process that leads to real progress in resolving our long-standing concerns with Iran’s nuclear program. P5+1 political directors held preparatory meetings in Brussels yesterday, and efforts are underway to schedule the next round soon.
It is our firm view that resolving this issue will require Iran to come to the table quickly and seriously to discuss in a forthright way how to establish that the intentions of their nuclear program are, as they claim, peaceful. There are verifiable steps Iran can take to be in compliance with its obligations. Such steps would provide the world assurance that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. The question is whether in these upcoming negotiations, Iran shows itself to be moving clearly and credibly in that direction. Mr. President, we and our partners remain ready to engage with Iran on the basis of the framework proposed by the P5+1, and we will continue to work closely with our partners in the international community, including on this Council and the 1737 Committee, on this critical issue.
Thank you, Mr. President.