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UN: Iran complying with letter, not spirit, of nuclear deal

UN: Iran complying with letter, not spirit, of nuclear deal
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Iran’s ballistic missile launches are inconsistent with the spirit of a nuclear deal, the United Nation’s secretary-general said in a report publicly released Monday, though he refrained from calling the launches an outright violation.

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“I call upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to refrain from conducting such launches, given that they have the potential to increase tensions in the region,” Ban Ki-moon wrote in a report the U.N. Security Council. “Whereas it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, I am concerned that those launches are not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated by the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”

The document is Ban’s first biannual report to the Security Council on the landmark nuclear deal since “Implementation Day” six months ago and comes just after the one-year anniversary of the deal being reached. Though Ban said he is encouraged by Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments, the country continues to engage in other improper activity, such as the ballistic missile launches and shipping arms to Yemen.

Over the last year, Tehran has conducted at least three ballistic missile launches. 

A U.N. resolution passed last year in support of the nuclear deal “called upon” Iran to not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

But a Security Council response against Iran for the missile launches stalled amid a debate over what “called upon” means. Iran’s supporters, such as Russia, have said the tests aren’t a violation since the resolution is a “call,” not a “ban.” Russia has veto power in the Security Council.

Ban’s report referenced that disagreement, but said the Security Council should build on the momentum of the nuclear deal and Iran should avoid ballistic missile launches.

“I am aware that the Security Council discussed those launches on 14 March and 1 April. I also recognize that there was no consensus reached among Council members as to whether those launches were covered under resolution 2231,” he wrote. “Whereas it is for the Council to interpret its own resolutions, we must maintain the momentum created by the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, consistent with its constructive spirit.”

Ban also said he is reviewing allegations that Iran tried to ship arms to Yemen.

In April, the U.S. Navy announced it had seized a cache of weapons in March that U.S. officials believe were likely heading from Iran to Houthi rebels in Yemen. That was the third seizure, the Navy said, with the Australian navy confiscating weapons in February and the French navy seizing weapons in March.

In response to the U.S. allegations, representatives of the U.N. Secretariat met with members of the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, who adamantly denied the weapons shipments.

“The Secretariat is still reviewing the information provided by the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and I intend to provide an update on this arms seizure to the Security Council in due course,” Ban wrote.

The commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, may have also violated a travel ban, Ban wrote. Iranian media indicated Soleimani went to Iraq in May.

Ban requested more information from Iran and Iraq’s permanent missions to the U.N. and will “report back to the Security Council in due course,” he wrote.

The report also included Iran’s criticisms against the United States, with the disclaimer that the complaints were “reproduced as received.”

Iran specifically complained that it has been unable to fully benefit from the lifting of sanctions due to “deficiencies and/or non-performance” by the United States or the European Union. For example, Iran slammed its inclusion in recently passed restrictions to the U.S. visa waiver program, as well as a Supreme Court ruling that said American victims of terrorism could collect $1.75 billion from the Central Bank of Iran.

“Please note that the above problems, deficiencies and defective performances are happening despite the fact that Iran has honored its obligations in full,” Iran said, according to the report.

Samantha PowerSamantha Jane PowerThe Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump Trump administration begins denying visas to some same-sex partners of foreign diplomats: report New Zealand prime minister becomes first female world leader to bring baby to UN MORE, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, hailed the implementation of the nuclear agreement Monday, saying commitments have been kept and the deal has held.

But, she added, Ban’s report highlights actions Iran has undertaken that are inconsistent with the U.N. resolution.

She called on all member states to implement the resolution and condemn actions that both violate it or are inconsistent with it.

“No one — and in that I would include UN member states, the Security Council, and the Secretariat — should turn a blind eye to such actions,” she said. “As we have said all along of this resolution, implementation is everything.”

Power also expressed dismay that the report included Iran’s complaints against the United States.

“While some have argued that, to be balanced, the report should give Iran a chance to express complaints about sanctions relief under the deal, the Security Council did not mandate the Secretariat to report on issues unrelated to implementation of Annex B of Resolution 2231,” she said. “The United States has fully implemented all of our sanctions-related commitments under the deal, and we’ve responded to questions about them both through the Joint Commission and through extensive bilateral engagement with Iran.”

Meanwhile, Iran rejected Ban’s report as “biased” and “prepared under U.S. pressure,” according to quasi-official Tasnim news agency.

“The allegations leveled against the Islamic Republic in the report are unfounded,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.