June 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2011
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MIDDLE EAST

Iran

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive a briefing from the chair of the sanctions committee on Iran in June. The chair typically briefs the Council every 90 days.

The mandate of the panel of experts that assists the Iran sanctions committee expires on 9 June. The Council is expected to extend the panel’s mandate.

Key Recent Developments
A new IAEA report on Iran’s implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement and relevant Council resolutions is expected before the briefing in June. The last IAEA report, on 25 February, said that the agency was continuing to evaluate the amount of enriched nuclear material produced by Iran. (An IAEA inventory in October 2010, when taken together with Iran’s estimate of material produced through February, indicates that Iran may have produced 3,606 kilograms of low enriched uranium [LEU] and 43.6 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 per cent.)

The IAEA report is likely to conclude that Iran is not implementing a number of its obligations, including:

  • implementation of the provisions of the Additional Protocol (under the terms of the Additional Protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites to address concerns about nuclear activities);
  • suspension of enrichment-related activities; and
  • clarification of possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

The chair of the Iran sanctions committee, Ambassador Néstor Osorio of Colombia, last briefed the Council on 22 March. He reported that the committee had received two reports from member states regarding separate possible sanctions violations involving Iran’s procuring items that could be used in enrichment-related activities or for the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems. He said the number of reported sanctions violations is a matter of serious concern, but the willingness of member states to report violations is positive and should be encouraged. Osorio also said that on 4 March the committee was briefed by the coordinator of the panel of experts. The panel had begun its activities by discussing its programme of work, investigating a reported violation of the arms embargo and conducting an assessment of member state implementation reports.

The panel of experts submitted a report to the Council in mid-May. The document, which was leaked to media outlets, reportedly says Iran has violated the sanctions regime by repeatedly engaging in multiple banned transfers of conventional arms to Syria. It appears Russia is blocking publication of the experts report at this time. (Iran was also mentioned in the context of the May report by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) panel of experts, which apparently raised the possibility that the DPRK and Iran have also been transporting items prohibited by that sanctions regime. Iran’s Foreign Ministry has denied this.)

On the question of the Iranian nuclear programme, a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on 11 May that the EU had received a letter from Iran indicating openness to further discussions, but that it contained no change in position that would justify another meeting between Iran and the E3+3. (The E3+3 is comprised of China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US. A January E3+3 meeting with Iran in Istanbul was viewed as disappointing by the group.)

On 23 May the EU expanded the assets freeze it imposed against some individuals in Iran and on 24 May the US announced that it would sanction seven international firms for violating its sanctions law on Iran. US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that economic measures against Iran should continue in order to prompt a change in its behaviour with regard to its nuclear programme.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 March the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted by a vote of 22 to 7 (with 14 abstentions) a resolution establishing a mandate of a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. The rapporteur will report to the HRC at its 19th session in March 2012 and prepare an interim report for the General Assembly at its 66th session this October. The resolution called on the government to cooperate fully with the special rapporteur and to allow him or her to visit Iran. Earlier, in a report submitted to the HRC in accordance with General Assembly resolution 65/226, the UN Secretary-General had noted that although the government had issued a standing invitation to UN human rights mandate holders, no visit has taken place since 2005. The Secretary-General encouraged Iran to facilitate such visits as a matter of priority in order that they might conduct more comprehensive assessments and facilitate technical assistance.

Key Issues
The key issue is whether the mandate of the panel of experts should be renewed.

Another issue is whether Council members might want to take up the question of engagement in substantive talks on the nuclear programme and compliance with Council sanctions regimes.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • a simple technical renewal of the committee’s panel of experts for another year;
  • including an expression of concern over Iran’s continuing disregard of previous Council decisions;
  • requesting the committee to designate additional individuals or entities as subject to the sanctions currently in place; or
  • encouraging Iran and the E3+3 to find common ground on substantive talks as a matter of urgency.

Council and Broader Dynamics
Most Council members appear to view the work of the panel of experts positively. There seems to be wide support for extending the mandate of the panel in June.

Although most Council members remain concerned about the continued development of Iran’s nuclear programme, there seems to be little appetite for opening new negotiations on the imposition of additional Council sanctions at this time. However, the recent additional economic measures imposed by the EU and the US seem to demonstrate a continuing determination.

Most members are also very concerned about Iran’s compliance with sanctions resolutions imposed by the Council. It is unclear at present exactly what reservations Russia has about the experts report. There seems to be a feeling among Council members that no significant role for the Council is politically feasible at present.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1929 (9 June 2010) imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran.
  • S/RES/1887 (24 September 2009) reaffirmed previous resolutions related to Iran’s nuclear activities.
  • S/RES/1835 (27 September 2008) reaffirmed commitment to a negotiated solution within the E3+3 dual-track framework, and called upon Iran to comply with previous Council resolutions.
  • S/RES/1803 (3 March 2008) reiterated existing measures against Iran and imposed additional ones.
  • S/RES/1747 (24 March 2007) established a ban on Iran’s arms exports and added names to the list of people and entities subject to assets freeze.
  • S/RES/1737 (23 December 2006) banned trade with Iran of certain items related to nuclear activities and weapon-delivery systems, imposed an asset freeze on certain persons and entities and established a sanctions committee.
  • S/RES/1696 (31 July 2006) demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6502 (22 March 2011) was the most recent briefing by the chair of the 1737 Committee.

Latest IAEA Report

Other Relevant Facts

Sanctions Committee Chairman

Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia)

Useful Additional Source

Charles D. Ferguson, “Steps Toward a Deal on Enhanced Safeguards for Iran’s Nuclear Program“, Arms Control Today, March 2011

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