Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Iran Nonproliferation

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
July 6, 2023


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo for the Secretariat’s work on this report and your briefing to the Council today. And thank you to Ambassador Frazier for your facilitation of this report. I also wish to thank Ambassador Skoog for his presentation.

The United States remains gravely concerned with Russia’s use of Iranian drones against Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure in its unprovoked war against Ukraine. Both Iran and Russia have violated their obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by participating in these transfers without obtaining advance approval from the UN Security Council.

Just last weekend, public reports indicate that Russia used eight Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones to terrorize Kyiv. The Ukrainian Air Force said it destroyed these drones, but three buildings were damaged by debris and one man was reportedly injured. This incident, along with several others, must be investigated as it clearly constitutes a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Annex B, Paragraph 4.

We urge the UN to address these violations and, consistent with the mandate in Resolution 2231, to report on implementation of the provisions of this resolution. Specifically, the UN Secretariat should, without any further delay, send a team of investigators to Kyiv to examine the debris from these weapons used by Russia against Ukraine. Moreover, the UN Secretariat should send, without any further delay, a team of investigators to review materiel recovered by the United Kingdom.

The mandate is clear and requires no less. Security Council resolutions are not optional, and they must be upheld. It is no secret that Iran’s UAV development and proliferation pose a global threat. That is why the transfer of these items was prohibited under 2231.

Russia’s acquisition of hundreds of Iranian drones and now production* of those drones on its own territory, however, dramatically changes the equation. This is a flagrant violation of Resolution 2231. We should not be shy about condemning this destabilizing and dangerous behavior.

We have seen evidence submitted to this Council and to the Secretary-General extensively detailing components of Iranian UAVs recovered on the battlefield in Ukraine. Despite proof of Iran’s complete disregard for its obligations under Resolution 2231, Tehran continues to deny its role in the damage caused by its weaponry in Ukraine. These denials – in the face of such clear photographic evidence – suggest that even Iran’s leaders are uncomfortable with Russia’s brutal use of these weapons against civilian targets.

Also deeply troubling are Russia’s attempts to undermine publicly available and verified information confirming Russia’s use of Iranian UAVs in its war against Ukraine. Moscow even goes so far as to characterize evidence submitted to this Council by London and Kyiv as false and has rebuffed requests by Council members for the Secretary-General to examine the seized components, which falls under its reporting mandate.

In fact, were expert investigators to examine these components, the United States believes it would find that they appear to have design characteristics and markings similar to components previously recovered from the debris of ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

This Council must address any and all violations of Resolution 2231 given the implications for not only peace and security in the Middle East, but also in Ukraine and the rest of the world. As such, we reiterate our previous calls for the Secretary-General to update the Council on his assessment of Iranian made UAVs recovered in Ukraine within the next 30 days.

Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, there should be no higher priority for the Secretariat. A failure to act will only lead to further attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and potentially the loss of civilian lives. It is our responsibility in this Council to do whatever we can to avert those outcomes, even if it means confronting one of our own members over their violations.

Additionally, in May, Iranian state media announced the test of a medium range ballistic missile. This launch was inconsistent with Paragraph 3, which calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity involving ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology. Iran’s continued development and proliferation of such missiles pose serious threats to regional and international security, and the Council should view these actions with the seriousness they deserve.

Iran’s ballistic missile activity – especially in light of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and its threatening rhetoric – is an enduring threat to regional and international peace and stability. Even after certain restrictions in Resolution 2231 terminate, the United States will continue to take vigorous measures to counter this threat and block the proliferation of sensitive ballistic missile-technology to and from Iran. We will also continue to sanction companies and traders contributing to this threat.

In addition, Iran has continued to expand its nuclear program and escalate tensions. Iran should take actions that build international confidence and deescalate tensions, not continue nuclear provocations that pose grave proliferation risks.

Meanwhile, Member States must fully implement the relevant measures in Annex B of Resolution 2231. Iran flagrantly continues to carry out activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons in defiance of Paragraph 3 of Annex B to Resolution 2231.

The Security Council must be clear and united in condemning this activity. When Iran defies the Security Council repeatedly without consequence, it undermines the fundamental credibility of the Council itself.

Thank you, Madam President.


* planned production