September 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 August 2014
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MIDDLE EAST

Iran

Expected Council Action                        

In September, the chair of the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Gary Quinlan (Australia), is due to present his quarterly briefing on the Committee’s work to the Council.

Key Recent Developments

On 2 July, the sixth round of talks since February between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US) commenced in Vienna in an attempt to conclude a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme before a 20 July deadline. On 18 July, the parties announced that they had agreed to extend the talks by four months until 24 November. The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), which was agreed to on 24 November 2013 and took effect on 20 January, allowed for the possibility of up to a six-month extension.

According to a statement released on 18 July by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the credible prospect of reaching an agreement warranted extending negotiations, although “real gaps” remain. Under the terms of the extension, Iran will convert all of its 20 percent-enriched uranium into fuel. (The conditions of the original agreement called for only half to be converted and for the other half to be diluted.) Once in fuel form, according to the statement, it will be more difficult for Iran to use this material for a weapon in a “breakout scenario”. Iran, in return, gained access to an additional $2.8 billion dollars of its frozen assets.

Among outstanding differences, one of the potentially most difficult to reconcile is the nuclear enrichment capacity that Iran will retain. The US reportedly wants to restrict Iran to 10,000 centrifuges or fewer for its nuclear programme, while Iran says that it requires much more than that total to meet its long-term energy needs. In a 7 July speech, supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that Iran’s “absolute need” is for 190,000 “separative work units”, which would represent an increase of 10 to 20 times its existing enrichment capacity.

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, visited Iran on 17 August, meeting with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President  and chairman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. It was Amano’s first visit to Tehran since the signing of the Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation between Iran and the IAEA on 11 November 2013. They discussed how to strengthen cooperation and dialogue under the framework, including establishing new practical measures. On 20 August, Amano sent the Council a letter attaching a recently published IAEA report that reveals that Iran has fulfilled its commitment in the JPA regarding its entire stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium by either diluting it below 5 percent or converting it to a form not suitable for further enrichment (GOV/INF/2014/19). The findings, first reported on by the press on 20 July, further confirm that Iran is also observing all its other commitments in the JPA.

The 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee has not met since the chair’s 25 June briefing (S/PV.7211). Its activities since the briefing have included sending a letter to Iran on 10 July about the Klos C incident. (The Klos C is a Panama-flagged ship that departed Iran and was interdicted by Israel in the Red Sea on 5 March 2014 with a shipment of rockets in violation of sanctions.) The letter included the Panel of Experts (PoE) incident report on the case and requested Iran’s comments. Work has also begun to update bio-identifiers such as passport numbers and dates of birth of listed individuals, as recommended by the PoE in its latest report (S/2014/394). During the Committee’s discussions of the report in June before the last briefing, Russia expressed its opposition to the last four of the seven PoE recommendations, and China similarly expressed its opposition to recommendations four, five and six. (These were recommendations about actions that states should take related to dual-use goods, “typologies of proliferation financing”, shipping/freight and front companies.)

The Council renewed the mandate of the PoE on 9 June for one year (S/RES/2159).

The next round of high-level discussions will be held in September in New York on the margins of the General Assembly.

Human Rights-Related Developments

In a press release on 26 June, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern about the large number of executions in Iran in 2014, in particular those of juvenile offenders, which is prohibited under international law. According to information gathered by the UN Human Rights Office, some 160 people are reportedly on death row for crimes they committed while under the age of 18. Pillay also condemned the execution of political prisoners and urged Iran to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

On 8 August, seven Human Rights Council (HRC) special rapporteurs expressed grave concern over the recent escalation in the arrest and sentencing of individuals exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion, peaceful assembly and association. Since 22 May, 36 individuals, including journalists, bloggers, filmmakers and authors, have been arrested, summoned or sentenced.

During its 27th session in September, the HRC will consider the report of the Secretary-General on the question of the death penalty (A/HRC/27/23). The report includes a reference to Iran, reiterating concerns in previous reports about its continued heavy reliance on the death penalty to combat crimes that according to international human rights jurisprudence do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes”, including consensual same-sex sexual activity, apostasy and blasphemy. The report also notes that executions relating to acts of terrorism or crimes of a political nature were carried out.

Key Issues

Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are the key issue for Council members, as the Committee’s work has been almost completely put on hold in light of the talks.

Another issue is Iran’s dialogue with the IAEA, which also includes discussion of outstanding questions about the past possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme.

At the Committee level, issues include continuing follow-up to the PoE’s recommendations and to the Klos C incident report.

Options

Given member states’ high interest in the JPA process and some confusion over the status of Council sanctions during the talks, the Committee could hold an open briefing to explain the impact of a possible deal on Security Council sanctions and the work that the Committee will need to carry out to review or lift measures.

A further option for the Committee is issuing an Implementation Assistance Notice (IAN) on the Klos C case that highlights for member states the techniques employed by Iran in shipping the banned rockets.

Council and Wider Dynamics

The Committee’s work has been very limited due to the continuing P5+1 negotiations with Iran. Since the start of the JPA, China and Russia, which have blocked Committee action in the past, have insisted that the Committee avoid any activities that could undermine the talks. The P3, usually the toughest in the Council on Iran, have also been cautious about Committee actions—such as proposing new designations—that could hurt the negotiations. However, smaller steps that have been proposed that the P3 would support—such as issuing an IAN on the Klos C case—are considered likely to be blocked by China or Russia, which perceive them as also too provocative in light of the negotiations. At the same time, the Committee has not received any new incident reports, which is in line with a trend identified in the PoE report that since mid-2013 there have been fewer reported violations.

The timing of the chair’s briefing in September could be sensitive as it may overlap with the high level P5+1 talks with Iran.

Elected Council members have expressed frustration that they have had very little information on the P5+1 process. Most Council members highlighted at the last chair briefing that Council sanctions on Iran still remain in force during negotiations. It seems they emphasised this point in response to the PoE’s latest report, which notes that some states have been confused by the status of UN sanctions.

The US is the penholder on Iran.

UN DOCUMENTS ON IRAN

Security Council Resolutions
9 June 2014 S/RES/2159 This resolution renewed for 13 months the Panel of Experts assisting the 1373 Iran Sanctions Committee, without changes to its mandate.
Security Council Meeting Records
25 June 2014 S/PV.7211 This was the most recent 90-day briefing.
Sanctions Committee Documents
5 June 2014 S/2014/394 This was the final report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee.
Selected IAEA Documents
27 November 2013 INFCIRC/855 This was the communication to the IAEA from the EU High Representative with the text of the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1.

 

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