AP| EDITH M. LEDERER: The United Nations, the European Union and key players in the Iran nuclear agreement delivered a united message Wednesday aimed at U.S. President-elect Donald Trump: The deal is working and must be maintained to keep Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Speaker after speaker at a U.N. Security Council meeting on implementation of the 2015 deal stressed its historic nature and its success after its first year.
The agreement was negotiated by Iran and six world powers – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – and enshrined in a legally binding U.N. resolution. It imposed limits on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for lifting U.N. economic sanctions.
While Trump was not mentioned by name, their messages were clearly intended for the new U.S. leader who will be inaugurated Friday and has strongly criticized the Iran deal, vowing at times during the presidential campaign either to walk away from it or to renegotiate it.
U.N. political chief Jeffrey Feltman told the council the nuclear agreement “is a good example of how multilateral diplomacy, political will and perseverance can resolve the most complex issues.”
“It is imperative that its participants, the United Nations and the broader international community continue to support the full implementation of this historic multilateral agreement for its full duration,” he said. “It’s comprehensive and sustained implementation guarantees that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who facilitated the agreement, praised the deal as “a major achievement” and said all participants have fulfilled their commitments, citing “a staggering 63 percent” rise in EU-Iran trade in the first three quarters of 2016 as one example of the results of lifting sanctions.
But Mogherini stressed in a statement read by the EU ambassador to the U.N. that “implementation is an ongoing task and we expect full and effective implementation throughout the lifetime of the agreement.” Some limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, in possibly her final appearance in the Security Council, said the agreement “shows the life-and-death importance of hard-nosed diplomacy.”
The deal is working, she stressed, pointing to its achievements: Iran’s plutonium reactor core at Arak is now filled with concrete. The U.N. nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran has dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges and shipped out 98 percent of its enriched uranium. Its remaining uranium is under continuous watch.
At the last meeting of the commission monitoring implementation of the agreement on Jan. 10, all sides reaffirmed their commitment to the deal. But future U.S. support remains in question.
President Barack Obama has warned the Trump administration that the accord can’t easily be undone and is preferable to war.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told reporters Tuesday the deal is beneficial to the United States, but Trump “doesn’t understand this.” He dismissed Trump’s remarks as “mainly slogans,” saying “I do not see it as likely that something happens in practice.”
While Security Council members welcomed the success of the nuclear deal’s implementation, Iran came under criticism for its reported attempts to ship weapons to Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah which Tehran supports – in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
Power, the U.S. envoy, warned that progress on the nuclear issue shouldn’t distract the council from Iran’s other actions to destabilize the Middle East including threats against Israel and violating “the human rights of its own people.”