Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Non-Proliferation

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 27, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, Ambassador Van Oosterom, Ambassador Vale de Almeida, for your briefings today.

As has been noted, on May 8, President Trump announced that the United States would end its participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program and instead pursue a comprehensive policy both to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and to counter the totality of the regime’s malign activities.

Today’s report shows that Iran continues to destabilize the region through its support for terrorist groups and proxy forces. The findings and information presented in the Secretary-General’s report paint a deeply troubling picture of the scope of this behavior. We are particularly concerned by the detailed reporting that confirms numerous Iranian arms embargo violations across the Middle East, as well as that certain nuclear dual-use items have been shipped to Iran outside of the agreed channels and without the required Security Council approval.

It is clear from the report that Iran bears responsibility for providing the Houthis with five ballistic missiles that they have launched at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia. The UN also finds that seized weapons they inspected in Bahrain were manufactured in Iran. And it confirms that an unmanned explosive boat recovered by the UAE had systems with coordinates showing that it had been in Iranian territorial waters and that at least some of its components were manufactured in Iran. The report describes Iranian drones recovered in Yemen and Syria, and it cites a televised interview with Hamas political leader Yahya Sinwar, in which he states that the Islamic Republic of Iran provided armed groups in Gaza with “money, [military] equipment, and expertise” before and after the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

These unacceptable violations provide us with concrete evidence of how Iran is destabilizing the region, and in particular, prolonging the violence in Yemen. Adding up all of these data points leads to one unmistakable conclusion: that Iran continues to send weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of this Council’s resolutions. If there was ever any doubt regarding Iran’s clear threat to international peace and stability, the findings of this report should lay it to rest.

The only question remains – when confronted with all of the information presented by the Secretary-General in this and other reports, how will the Member States of this Council respond? At a minimum, Iran has violated provisions of Resolutions 2231, 2216, 1701, and 1559. In these resolutions, we, the members of this Council, prohibited Iran from exporting weapons, and we prohibited the supply of weapons to the Houthis and to Hizballah. Iran has defied and violated these resolutions – in many cases, openly. When confronted with a country that continually violates this Council’s resolutions, it is imperative that we pursue meaningful consequences. That is why we urge members of this Council to join us in the imposition of sanctions that target Iran’s malign behavior in the region. The United States stands ready to work with the members of this Council to take real action against the threat Iran poses.

The United States will continue to work with Member States and the UN Secretariat to shine a spotlight on Iran’s behavior. Reports like the one we are considering today are critical, and we encourage everyone to read it. With the re-imposition of our sanctions, the United States is taking a stand. We have declared that Iran’s actions will not go unchallenged, and we have shown that we will follow through. The United States is taking decisive action to ensure Iran faces consequences as long as it remains bent on sowing instability. We urge the members of this Council to join us.

Standing up to Iran’s destabilizing behavior is a mission that all of us should have and share. When we look out at the region, we see Iran supporting the Houthis, Iran supporting Hizballah, Iran supporting Hamas, and Iran supporting the Assad regime. Iran repeatedly comes up when we gather to discuss mass atrocities, humanitarian catastrophes, or the launching of ballistic missiles. As long as Iran is the common denominator in so many conflicts across the region, we must respond. Any Member State concerned about promoting peace in the Middle East should do the same.

Thank you, Mr. President.