UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Security Council has reiterated the importance of preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of rogue actors after having so-far failed to resolve a 12-year conflict over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
On November 24, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany postponed for seven months a deadline that may still lead to a historical deal with Tehran. This is the second time this year that a consensus between world powers and Iran over the nuclear issue has not been realized.
The interim agreement reached in 2013 limits the number of centrifuges Tehran can use to enrich uranium. It also restricts the level of uranium enrichment to much below what is necessary to develop a nuclear weapon. In exchange, world powers freed frozen Iranian assets.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, former EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, Omani Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Oman at a recent P5 + 1 meetings with the Iranians. (Photo by AP)
Much to be done
Security Council members agreed that the spread of WMD is a real threat today.
The representative of the United States said that the committee failed to meet its goals and ensure compliance with non-proliferation. “We ask that the committee prioritize this aspect of its work,” he said.
On November 18, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would send troops to fight in Iraq and Syria if ISIS acquired nuclear weapons.
“Resolution 1540 has one of highest rates of reporting compliance but we have not achieved universality of reporting,” said the United Kingdom’s spokesman.
This 2004 U.N. resolution asserts that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threatens international peace and security. It also requires all states to prevent its spread. In addition, Resolution 1540 calls upon all states to present a report on steps they have taken or will take to implement it.
“The resolution objectives have never been more relevant,” noted Russia’s representative.
France’s spokesman said that “much remains to be done,” as he expressed concern over the situation in Iran, North Korea and Syria. “We must continue to strengthen international cooperation […] against the illegal use of traditional weapons,” added the French representative.
On November 13, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry threatened to conduct a nuclear test in retaliation to a U.N. probe into human rights violations in the country.
“At present, the international community’s fight against WMD proliferation is faced with a new complex situation with the rising trend of non-state entities,” said China’s representative.
Australia’s spokesperson and chairman of the Security Council Committee suggested three ways to better implement Resolution 1540. He said that increasing outreach to industry and the private sector was crucial for export control of weapons. “When they understand the threat, they become reliable partners rather than adversaries,” he pointed out. He proposed to assist developing nations in implementing the resolution to alleviate their burden. Australia’s representative also recommended enhancing the linkage with other relevant resolutions.
Argentina’s spokeswoman reminded the delegates of states’ sovereign right to develop nuclear power for peaceful use. She also said that the international community should prevent WMD from falling into the wrong hands. “Honestly, we do not know what would be the right hands for that,” she said.
“Argentina is convinced that the only way of ensuring that WMD do not fall into the wrong hands or are used in any way is by completely eliminating them,” she added.