Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the UN General Assembly Stakeout, on the Terrorist Plot to Assassinate the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 18, 2011


Ambassador Rice: Good evening, everybody.

I want to begin by congratulating the people of Saudi Arabia for their overwhelming success here in the General Assembly. But I also want to congratulate the member states of the General Assembly, because today--in a very powerful, unified statement of support--they came together to clearly condemn terrorism in all its forms, to deplore the plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, and to call on Iran to fulfill its obligations under the 1973 convention and cooperate with this investigation.

I think it’s noteworthy that over a 100 countries—a total of 106—voted in favor of this resolution, and only nine opposed it. Nine. Iran plus eight. Not one of those eight countries was another Islamic—predominantly Islamic—or Arab country. Not one.

The world came together in a very strong message that diplomats and the work we do are sacrosanct. We all deserve protection and the ability to do the work of the state without fear or threat of violence.

And today, the members of the General Assembly delivered that message very forcefully. Iran is increasingly isolated here in this body at the United Nations in New York, again, today in Vienna. And I think this is indicative of the world’s growing abhorrence of their behavior, including their support for terrorism, their pursuit of a nuclear weapons program and their gross violations of Human Rights.

Happy to take a couple of questions.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, how likely is it this resolution will entice Iran to cooperate with the judicial process to find the truth? I asked this question to the Iranian Ambassador. He said that he has been given no evidence—the government has been given no evidence and that what he has seen and written is not evidence, according to him. How willing is the United States to take the Iranian government on board and share information to find the truth?

Ambassador Rice: The Iranian government has the information that is now being used in our court system. They have all of that detailed evidence. The Iranian Ambassador actually said in front of the General Assembly today that Iran had no problem cooperating under the 1973 convention, and yet it opposes this resolution and it has refused thus far to cooperate in any way shape or form.

We hope that the overwhelming support that the members of the General Assembly today gave to the Saudi resolution with the support of 60 co-sponsors will cause Iran to reconsider its position and cooperate appropriately as it’s obliged to do under the 1973 convention.

Reporter: You said that it’s a very clear message, but what do you make of the abstentions of Security Council members like South Africa, India, Indonesia also abstained, China voted no. Is there a reason you didn’t bring it to the Council? And those are pretty big countries. What do you think it says that they thought there’s not due process or that it should go through the courts?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I think first of all, many of those countries explained their vote, and they all affirmed their condemnation of terrorism in all forms. We thought—and, I think, most importantly, the government of Saudi Arabia thought—that the General Assembly was the appropriate first stop for an effort to condemn this attack because it affects all of us as diplomats. And the General Assembly is the only forum where every state in the world is represented and has the opportunity to express their concern and condemnation of acts that target diplomats. So we think that was appropriate and right. It doesn’t preclude the possibility that at some stage down the road that it may be appropriate for the Council, but this clearly was the right first step and we were very pleased to support it.

Reporter: Ambassador Rice, turning to Syria, what is your assessment of the newly emboldened Arab League? Is it a game changer and will the action get back to the Security Council or will Russian obstructionism still hold things back?

Ambassador Rice: Well, we think that the Arab League has taken a firm and principled stand to suspend Syria, to be prepared in the next little while—perhaps as soon as tomorrow—to impose sanctions on Syria. The behavior of the Syrian Regime is absolutely deplorable, condemnable. The violence it’s perpetrating on its citizens on a daily biases, including today, has to stop. We ourselves, the United States, have imposed very strong sanctions on the Syrian regime as have many other states. Now the Arab league is likely to follow suit. We think that this is a very significant step, and we think that the chorus of nations is growing, that is of the view that it’s time for Assad to step down and for the violence to stop.

Reporter: Ambassador, do you see any traction in the Security Council on that issue right now?

Ambassador Rice: What will be next on Syria, I think, as many of you know, will be a vote in the General Assembly on a resolution next week.


PRN: 2011/256