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(photo credit: US State Department)
The United Nations should set up an Iran sanctions monitoring committee to help identify "cheaters and spoilers" who are not complying with the UN Security Council sanctions, Brian Hook, the US assistant secretary of state for international organizations, said Tuesday.
"We think it would be a very useful addition to the work of the Security Council in evaluating the implementation of sanctions," Hook told The Jerusalem Post. One of the frequent criticisms in Jerusalem of the UN sanctions regime has been that not only are the sanctions not strong enough, but they are not even being fully implemented.
Hook said there had been talk for some time about setting up a sanctions monitoring committee, but that the Security Council had not succeeded in getting it off the ground. "In multilateral negotiations," he said, "you don't get everything you want."
Asked whether the other countries in the region were complying with the Chapter 7 sanctions, which make compliance by UN member states mandatory, Hook said, "It would be easier if we had a monitor team."
Hook, whose Bureau of International Organization Affairs develops and implements US policy in the UN and other international organizations, has concluded two days of meetings in Israel with his counterparts at the Foreign Ministry and with senior UN officials who run some of the 20 UN organizations operating in Israel and the PA. He leaves for Lebanon on Wednesday, where he will discuss implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
One of the main focuses of his talks in Jerusalem was Iran and attempts to isolate it at the UN. Hook said that while the UN sanctions had not succeeded in halting Iran's nuclear development, they were having an impact.
"I think Iran is chafing under the weight of international sanctions," he said. "They are doing everything they can to have them declared illegal. This tells me that they are troubled by isolation, although not enough to end their enrichment."
Hook said the Iranians had made it clear through their campaign in the UN to undermine sanctions, that they were "worried and bothered."
He said the vote in the General Assembly earlier in the month denying Iran a seat on the Security Council was a significant setback for Iran - which, he said, had lobbied heavily for the seat. He noted that no less significant was that the Iranian bid had been defeated on the first ballot by a vote of 158-32. Two years ago, by contrast, US-backed Guatemala and anti-American Venezuela withdrew their candidacy when they remained deadlocked after 47 ballots.
"I think the vote in the General Assembly shows how much a pariah Iran has become in the world," Hook said.
Regarding Russia and China's reluctance to ratchet up the sanctions against Iran, Hook decided to take a cup-half-full approach to the matter.
"Russia and China have voted with the US on every resolution on Iran, and I think that is politically significant," Hook said. "That as recently as last month the international community was able to come together and shine a spotlight on Iran's nuclear program suggests that we are keeping our focus and that Iran will continue to be isolated."
The Security Council passed a fourth resolution on Iran last month, which didn't add any new sanctions but reaffirmed the previous three rounds, a measure that was largely dismissed in Jerusalem as insignificant.
Hook, however, said it was important "not to lose sight that the resolution was passed just after the crisis in Georgia. In the aftermath of Georgia, it was significant that in spite of strong disagreements with Russia on that conflict, we are still in full agreement regarding the threat that Iran presents."
On another matter of concern to Israel, Hook said the US was currently working on a proposal to reform the UN Human Rights Council - a body that has turned into an Israel-bashing vehicle.
"The record of the Human Rights Council has been pathetic, and is worse than its predecessor," Hook said. "It needs to be reformed, and the US will play a leading role in helping to reform it."