US to UNSC: We won’t sit idly by while Iran destabilizes region

‘Tehran continues to saturate the Middle East with arms,’ US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the Security Council that gathered in New York to discuss Iran-related issues.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft speaks to the United Nations Security Council, October 28 2019 (photo credit: screenshot)
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft speaks to the United Nations Security Council, October 28 2019
(photo credit: screenshot)
The United States won’t allow Iran to ignite the Middle East, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the Security Council on Thursday, as she pointed to the latest evidence that Tehran was arming regional proxies.
In late November, the US intercepted a vessel of advanced Iranian arms bound for the Houthis in Yemen, Craft said. It contained “sophisticated components of anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles, air defense missiles, UAV components and anti-tank missiles.”
She asked the council members to “imagine what the Houthis might have done with these Iranian weapons.”
They “could once again attack a civilian airport, like they did in Abha, Saudi Arabia, last year” or “take aim at the world’s shipping, like they did when they hit a Turkish ship carrying wheat in 2018,” Craft said.
“Just one of these missiles could spark a regional confrontation none of us want,” she added.
“We will not sit idly by while Iran continues to destabilize the region,” Craft said.
The ambassador made these remarks while addressing the 15-member body that gathered in New York to discuss Iranian compliance with the 2015 Iranian deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as well as UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the deal.
Craft holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency, but spoke solely as a US representative.
“Iran continues to saturate the Middle East with arms, in violation of Resolution 2231,” she said, explaining that this has included “rocket-propelled grenade launchers shipped to Aden, cruise missiles passed to the Houthis, and drones and explosives provided to Syria by the IRGC.”
Craft said her country held Iran responsible for the  September 14  attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities.
“There is simply no other plausible explanation. Only Iran could have carried out an attack of this complexity and scope,” Craft said.
Craft dismissed claims that the Houthis harmed the oil fields, explaining that if this was the case, the attack would have come from the south, but evidence at the scene showed that it came from the north.
“The weapons used in the attack did not have the range to come from Houthi territory,” she pointed out, adding that the UAV used had characteristics in common with Iranian designs.
“This provocative act must be condemned by all nations, regardless of your stance on the nuclear deal. The council must hold Iran accountable,” Craft said.
The US was one of six world powers that signed the 2015 JCPOA with Iran, and that lifted international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for its agreement to curb its nuclear program.
Last year, the US pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on the country in hopes of bringing it back to the table to negotiate a new deal that would better constrain its nuclear and military activities.
The other signatories to the deal, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China, have since worked to preserve the agreement, even as Iran has begun to deliberately violate it.
During the meeting, UN Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo took both the US and Iran to task for undermining regional stability.
Both the JCPOA and Resolution 2231 “are crucial to nuclear non-proliferation as well as regional and international security,” she said.
“We therefore regret the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018 and the recent steps taken by Iran to reduce its nuclear-related commitments under the plan,” she added.
The US decision to reimpose national sanctions “may also impede the ability of Iran and other member states to implement the plan and 2231,” she further said.
DiCarlo detailed Iranian violations, such as surpassing limits set by the deal on uranium enrichment; stockpiling of heavy water and low-enriched uranium; centrifuge research; and the injection of uranium hexafluoride gas into the centrifuges at the Fordow nuclear facility.
The European members of the UNSC — Germany, the UK, France, Belgium and Poland — spoke of their commitment to the Iranian deal even as they condemned Tehran’s non-compliance.
“The JCPOA is critical to the wider global nonproliferation architecture, and it’s vital for our national security and the shared security of our partners and allies,” said British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce. “We believe it is the best means to avert a nuclear-armed Iran.”
Her country takes Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA and with UNSC Resolution 2231 very seriously, Pierce added.
“Over the past year, Iran has tested the Shahab 3 medium-range ballistic missile, unveiled the Borkan-3 medium-range ballistic missile and attempted the launch of the Safir satellite-launch vehicle. All of these actions are inconsistent with paragraph 3 of Annex B of Resolution 2231,” Pierce highlighted.
The UK’s preference, however, is to deal with the issue through tools amiable within the JCPOA, such as the Dispute Resolution Mechanism, she said. It’s a measure that could lead to the reimposition of international sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“This is not a step we want to take, but Iran’s actions are leaving us little option other than to respond within the parameters of the agreement. Should we be forced down the path of triggering the DRM, we would do so in order to find a diplomatic way forward with the aim of protecting the agreement,” Pierce further said.
Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takt Ravanchi stated that his country’s violations were a reaction to the US decision to “illegally” withdraw from the JCPOA and reimpose economic sanctions. Those sanctions also threaten to target other countries that trade with Iran, making it difficult for the other signatories to the deal to remain, he added.
“This and subsequent developments render the JCPOA… almost fully ineffective,” Ravanchi said.
The sanctions are the equivalent of an “actual war” against the Iranian people, he claimed, explaining that they target even humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine.
He chastised the European signatories for not ceding to the Iranian request to make up for its economic losses.
As soon as all the signatories to the JCPOA comply with the deal, then Iran will do so as well, Ravanchi pledged.