UN arms embargo on Iran is unreasonable

London, July 12, IRNA – Former British Ambassador to IAEA Peter Jenkins criticised the UN Security Council resolution banning export of conventional arms to Iran and also dismissed the idea that the nuclearnegotiating parties ever tried to roll back from what was agreed in April.

The following is the full text of an interview IRNA carried out with Jenkins.

Q: The current deadlock in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is understood to be because Iran wants UN arms embargo to be lifted; Was this issue not been discussed in the April’s Framework agreement?

A: If you look at the April framework agreement, there is a short paragraph towards the end which says: A new UN Security Council Resolution will endorse the JCPOA, terminate all previous nuclear-related resolutions and incorporate certain restrictive measures for a mutually agreed period of time.

I interprete that to mean that this issue was left to one side in the run up to the 2nd of April as a difficult issue which they would need more time to resolve.

Q: It appears the west wants to have access to Iran’s military sites to ensure that there will be no intension of developing a possibe nuclear weapons. Also the western powers want some answers from Tehran over past activities on this issue, why the past is being so important, and what sorts of significance would the answer have on the overall situation?

A: There has been so much emphasis over the last three and half years on the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s [nuclear] program up to 2003. I don’t think that the Americans expect to learn anything very significant. In fact, if I remember rightly about three weeks ago Secretary Kerry, confirmed that and said that the Americans knew all they needed to know about Iran’s activities prior to 2003. So the need is as much political as practical.

Q: Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Jawad Zarif, tweeted: You cannot change horses in the middle of stream. Also in Guardian, it was quoted from a senior Iranian official who said: There have been changes of positions and walking back from positions.” What is your view on this?

A: I know that before, Minister Zarif tweeted that there had been changes in the western position and that there had been westerners particularly Americans who had been arguing that there had been changes in the Iranian position.

I doubt that either side have really tried to roll back from what was agreed in April but the truth is that quite a few and very important details were left to be resolved later when the actual framework was announced.

So I prefer to see that both side have actually been acting in good faith that it simply is a case that both sides had important negotiating objectives that they still needed to pursue.

Q: So what would be the resolution to break the deadlock do you think?

A: I think there is something unreasonable about arguing that a new UN Security Council resolution should retain the same ban on the export to Iran of seven categories of conventional weapons.

It was already very questionable to impose that ban in 2010 in a resolution which was supposed to be about the alleged threat to the international peace and security posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

If you are worried about the nuclear program why you are also worried about Iran acquiring combat vehicles, tanks, aircrafts and ships; It does not make sense to me.

The only part of that ban that I think can be justified on nuclear grounds is the part that effects the export of missiles and missiles systems; But even then you have a problem because Iran would like to acquire a Russian air defence system, known as S-300 and there is no way in which a defence system could be used to deliver any kind of nuclear warhead. So why should that be banned.

Ideally the Americans would accept what I said and would lift the conventional arms ban entirely.

If I were in the room mediating as it were, I would suggest that he two parties look to compromise around lifting the ban on everything other than missiles and missiles systems that could be used for offensive purposes.

Q: You previously said that you were optimistic of an agreement that would be achieved by If not Tuesday but Wednesday or Thursday last week. This has now passed and the negotiations has now been extended to Monday, What is your forecast now?

A: Obviously I was over-optimistic, though I think I wasn’t alone; I was reflecting fairly wide held view at that point. But I remain optimistic; I continue to believe that the parties are so close to an agreement that they are not going to fail.