Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to thank Ambassador Quinlan for his first briefing as chair of the Iran Sanctions Committee. Mr. Ambassador, we appreciate the focus and energy that you and your team are bringing to this Committee.
The Iranian nuclear issue remains one of gravest threats to international security and a top priority for the Security Council. We meet today at a time of new opportunities but growing risks. In recent weeks, the IAEA Director-General reaffirmed yet again that Iran continues to advance its nuclear program and obstruct the IAEA’s investigation into the program’s possible military dimensions by refusing to grant the IAEA access to the Parchin site and to documents, personnel and equipment requested by the agency. These actions, as well as Iran’s continued enrichment and heavy-water related activities, are in clear violation of this Council's demands.
And more alarming still, the IAEA Director-General has confirmed that Iran is now further contravening UN Security Council resolutions by installing hundreds of second-generation centrifuges that could significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity. The installation of these centrifuges, as well as Iran's stockpiling of twenty percent-enriched uranium and continued enrichment at the Fordow facility, are cause for serious concern.
These actions are unnecessary and thus provocative. Iran already has enough enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor for at least a decade. Increasing this capacity – without any clear civilian use – makes no sense. Iran’s actions neither build international confidence nor bring us closer to a comprehensive and peaceful solution. On the contrary, they raise the world’s concerns.
For this very reason, the work of the Iran Sanctions Committee is vital. As long as Iran rejects its international obligations, we must be resolute in implementing fully the sanctions this Council has imposed.
In recent months, we’ve witnessed troubling new violations of these sanctions. In January, Yemen seized a vessel transporting a very large cache of sophisticated Iranian arms, ammunition and explosives in violation of Resolution 1747. These arms could have destabilized Yemen's fragile transition. We urge the Committee, with the support of the Panel of Experts, to investigate this case rigorously and work with the Council to craft a worthy response.
We have also observed more public statements acknowledging Iran's illicit arms smuggling. Representatives of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even Iran itself are now publicly admitting to activities that violate UN sanctions. The Committee should consider these statements as additional proof of Iran's blatant disregard for its obligations and follow up to the fullest extent possible.
The Committee is now also assessing Iranian missile launches that violated Resolution 1929. These launches allow Iran to refine and develop a technology that – if ever combined with weapons of mass destruction – would constitute an intolerable threat to international peace and security. We urge the Committee, in line with its mandate, to take swift and sure action in response, including imposing targeted sanctions on those responsible for these violations.
Each and every violation of UN sanctions is a serious matter. It is our collective responsibility to report on these cases, to support efforts to investigate them, and to act decisively when investigations are completed. Responding effectively to these incidents bolsters both the Council's credibility and the efficiency of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.
The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution and, therefore, we welcome the recently resumed P5 +1 dialogue with Iran. But let us not forget that dialogue is only a means to an end.
Our goal remains a durable and comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program in accordance with the NPT and in compliance with all relevant UN Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors' resolutions. As a first step, we seek to address Iran's most significant nuclear activities – the production and accumulation of near-20% enriched uranium and the installation of additional centrifuges at Fordow. In that event, the P5+1 countries have demonstrated that we are willing to take steps to respond to Iran's expressed concerns.
The talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Almaty were useful, but we must see whether real progress towards a negotiated solution can result from this renewed process. The process cannot continue indefinitely or be used as a stalling mechanism.
Therefore, we remain committed to the dual-track approach – mounting pressure on Iran as we pursue meaningful dialogue in good faith. Working together, we can continue to clarify for Iran the consequences of its actions and show Iran the benefits of choosing cooperation over provocation.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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