What's In Blue

Posted Mon 11 Jun 2012

Iran Sanctions Committee Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (12 June), Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia), Chair of the Iran Sanctions Committee, will brief the Council in a regular 90-day update on the Committee’s work. As is usually the case with these quarterly briefings, Council members will likely speak following the briefing but no Council action is anticipated.

The briefing this month comes at a notable time. This is both in terms of the wider political dynamic at play with respect to Iran’s nuclear programme and developments concerning the Panel of Experts (PoE), which assists the Iran Sanctions Committee (or “1737 Committee”) carry out its mandate.

On 7 June, the Council adopted resolution 2049 extending the mandate of the PoE until 9 July 2013. (In a break from previous practice, Council members agreed to extend the PoE’s mandate for 13 months, as opposed to 12 months, so as to provide an extra “buffer month” to allow for the PoE to continue its work smoothly while administrative steps are being undertaken around the time of its mandate renewal.)

One other distinguishing detail in this year’s resolution, which was otherwise essentially a technical roll-over of resolution 1984 (2011), was that it not only “recalled” this year’s PoE’s final report of 9 May 2012, but—unlike last year’s resolution—also provided a UN documentation number for the report (S/2012/395). Accordingly, it seems that agreement has been reached for this year’s report to be published, although at press time it was not known when the report would become available on the Committee’s website. (During regular briefings of the 1737 Committee over the last year, several Council members voiced their disappointment that the PoE’s report from May 2011 had not been published owing to objections at the Committee level.)

Unlike last year’s report, it seems that this year’s report was deemed credible and acceptable to all 15 Council members on the Committee, which requires consensus to make decisions. (The PoE is comprised of eight experts, including nationals of the P5 and Germany.)

The report states that sanctions are indeed slowing Iran’s procurement of some critical items required for its prohibited nuclear programme, although proscribed activities continue, including uranium enrichment. The report also states that Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments, two incidents of which involved Syria. (Seizures were made by the Turkish authorities in both cases.) The PoE also concluded that Syria continued to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers.

This year’s PoE report makes eleven recommendations to the Committee. These recommendations will be discussed in the coming weeks when the Committee meets for a second time to consider the report. One of those recommendations is to designate two further entities due to their violation of the sanctions regime: for transporting prohibited arms from Iran in one case and for acting as a trading agent for prohibited arms in the other.

Tomorrow’s briefing comes amidst ever-heightened interest in Iran’s nuclear programme. Ahead of the next round of talks between the P5+1 (Germany) and Iran in Moscow early next week (18-19 June), further talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday in Vienna produced no encouraging signs of progress. It seems that as concerns over military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme increase and as the EU and US tighten sanctions on Tehran, pressure is increasing on both sides to reach an agreement amenable to all.

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