FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Rice: Good afternoon, everybody. We’ve had a busy morning in the Council. As you know we spoke about the report of the 1737 Committee and I issued a statement. I won’t repeat the substance of that here. We also, as you just heard from the President of the Council, had a very useful discussion with Special Representative de Mistura on his way out to Kabul, and we had an important discussion just now on the report of the Sanctions Committee on Sudan. And I’d like to make a few comments on that third topic, the report of the Sanctions Committee on Sudan before I take your questions.
We heard that there have been, and continue to be, major and frequent violations of UN sanctions on Sudan that were imposed in 2005. We know that weapons continue to flow into Darfur, acts of sexual and gender-based violence continue unabated and with impunity, military over-flights and offensive actions continue. And though there has been the recent signing of the framework agreement, the fact is we continue to receive reports of offensive military actions by the Government of Sudan in Darfur.
If these reports are true, this behavior does not suggest a new willingness on the part of Sudan to fully engage in the peace process. At the same time, all of the rebel groups need to cease military activity and be part of the framework agreement if it is to be effective. In light of this fragile situation, the lack of compliance to UN sanctions on Darfur is particularly troubling. And the blatant disregard of the will of the Council is undermining stability rather than fostering it, which was the aim of the regime in the first place.
Last fall the Sudan Panel of Experts, an independent UN team, as you know, documented in great detail these serial violations and proposed some very concrete recommendations for the Committee to take to improve enforcement. And we’re disappointed, deeply disappointed, that the Committee has failed to reach consensus on even a single one of these recommendations. So today in the Council I praised Ambassador Mayr-Harting and his leadership of this Committee, which has truly been energetic and stellar. But I also frankly criticized the Committee as a whole, which means all of us Council members, who have a collective responsibility for dealing with this situation. We expect, the United States expects, the Committee to find points of consensus and work together to improve implementation of the sanctions regime.
We want this Committee to be active and engaged and to shine a spotlight on sanctions violations. And we want the Committee also to work with the Government of Sudan, parties in Sudan, and countries in the region to end what have been cavalier violations of this sanctions regime. In our view, better enforcement of the sanctions regime will improve conditions on the ground in support of peace and security. It would limit the flow of arms into Darfur, and do much to protect civilians who remain at grave risk. And this is going to remain a top priority for the United States.
I am happy to take your questions.
Reporter: Madame Ambassador, can you really stop arms into Darfur without a total arms embargo on Sudan? And is that ever going to be possible?
Ambassador Rice: Well certainly we have argued for more robust multilateral as well as national measures to reinforce progress towards ending the violence against civilians, the genocide, and the killing in Sudan. One of the limitations of this regime is that it has been flouted by various parties, including countries in the region, and obviously a more comprehensive approach might strengthen it. But if the will existed – greater will existed – to implement existing measures, that would be, in itself, progress. And that is in fact what we are decrying here today.
Reporter: Do the cavalier violations of the sanctions undermine the potential credibility of next month’s nationwide elections?
Ambassador Rice: I think these are two different issues. The credibility of next month’s elections is a function of whether in fact it is an open process in which all are allowed to participate. And we have expressed in the past real concerns that many in Darfur, given the security situation, given the efforts by the government and the rebels to displace and disenfranchise, will be compromised potentially by the lack of participation there and elsewhere. We view these as important elections. As I have said in the past, we are not entirely sanguine as to how their credibility will unfold, but we hope that this will be a process that leads to the people of Sudan having a credible opportunity to express their will.
Reporter: Madame Ambassador, just a clarification on one thing that you just said about Sudan. You said you’re disappointed in yourselves for not following concrete recommendations. Could you tell us a little bit more about what those recommendations are that you think aren’t being followed? And on Iran, did Deputy Secretary Steinberg hear anything different in Beijing yesterday in his talks than the Chinese have been saying here in terms of their opposition to sanctions?
Ambassador Rice: Well, let me take, let me quickly answer your first point and then go on to the second. The Panel of Experts have come back with a whole series of recommendations, many of which we think had merit and would like to see implemented by the Committee. I don’t want to go chapter and verse through each of them, but we think that they have done a credible job and there are many steps that the Committee could take, including looking at the role of the private sector, including rigorous follow up, to ensure that this regime has more credibility than it currently has. And we will, as I said inside the Council, also step up our own efforts to provide the panel, the newly reconstituted panel, which has just gone out of late, with the kind of information that we’re able to provide that we hope will support them in their efforts. We particularly are concerned about the importance of holding accountable violators who employ sexual violence against innocent civilians in Darfur, and I commend again Ambassador Mayr-Harting for drawing attention, in particular, to that challenge.
With respect to Iran, I will let Deputy Secretary Steinberg read out his own trip. I think we heard something important today in the Council from China and it comports with what we are hearing directly from China, which is that they remain committed to the dual track strategy of the P5+1. We continue to have constructive discussions with all of our partners in the P5+1 who agree that we share a goal, the crucial goal, of not allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capacity, that we remain, both of us, all us, committed to these two tracks, which are both engagement and diplomacy, which you heard everybody reaffirm today, and pressure. It is a dual track approach, and we are thus, in the process of talking to P5+1 counterparts in capitals about how to operationalize the pressure track in more concrete and specific ways. But I do want to say another thing that relates to some of the stories that I’ve been reading over the last day or two, and that is that we are not, at present, circulating a draft text of a resolution to Council colleagues here in New York.
Reporter: A follow up on the Sudan question: if you can just give us a flavor for what precisely the U.S. wants for the sanctions in terms of the recommendations. What does the U.S. think is a good idea and why do you think you haven’t been able to get that?
Ambassador Rice: As I said previously Colum, we think that the recommendations that the panel has made are worthy and merit serious consideration and indeed implementation. It’s no secret that there are differences of view in the Council on sanctions on Darfur and how robust implementation ought to be. It’s the U.S.’s view that when the Council imposes measures, whether on Iran, or North Korea, or Sudan, that those measures need to be fully and faithfully enforced. And in this instance, and frankly in contrast to some others, the level of commitment and energy behind enforcement is inadequate and we’re working to change that.
Reporter: On Iran, in light of Secretary Clinton’s trip to Brazil – what premium does the U.S. place on getting the most votes or the closest thing to a Council consensus, and how do you balance that against diluting the thing to get more votes? What kind of balance is there? What is the feeling on the need for getting the greatest consensus versus the strength?
Ambassador Rice: Iran’s nuclear program poses a threat to international peace and security. That is why it is on the Council’s agenda, that’s why there have been three previous sanctions resolutions passed, and that is why we expect that all members of the Council and responsible members of the international community will work to ensure that Iran is held to account for its international obligations, which it is currently flouting. We will continue to work for a credible and comprehensive effort to operationalize both tracks including, and especially, the pressure track. And we expect that responsible members of the Council will join ultimately in an effort to come together yet again to make the choice that Iran faces quite clear: it can engage seriously in diplomacy and resolve our collective concern about its nuclear program that we all discussed and reiterated this morning based on the IAEA report, or it can face greater pressure and isolation.
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