New UN Report Alleges Iran Still Transferring Weapons in Violation of Nuclear Deal

General Soleimani in Aleppo

General Soleimani (left) in Aleppo, Dec. 2016 (photo: Iranian media)

January 18, 2017 – Iran continues to transfer weapons in violation of its obligations under the Iranian nuclear deal according to information received by Ban Ki-moon which was detailed today in his final report to the Security Council on Tehran’s compliance with the deal.

Ban’s report also states that two individuals subject to a travel ban by the Security Council have violated that ban.

The report does, however, say that the UN Secretariat had not received any information regarding the sale, supply, or transfer of nuclear-related material to Iran in the past year.

Specifically, Ban’s report states, “On 5 July 2016, France brought to my attention information on the seizure of an arms shipment that, in its assessment, had originated in the Islamic Republic of Iran and was likely bound for Somalia or Yemen. According to information provided, the French frigate Provence, operating as part of the Combined Task Force 150, boarded a stateless dhow on 20 March 2016 in the northern Indian Ocean. That action resulted in the discovery of weapons aboard the vessel that included 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Hoshdar-M sniper rifles, 6 type-73 machine guns and 9 Kornet anti-tank missiles.”

“The Secretariat was recently provided with information (by the Combined Maritime Forces and Australia) on an arms seizure in February 2016 by the Royal Australian Navy, off the coast of Oman, which the United States of America assessed as having originated in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ban’s report adds.

“I look forward to the opportunity for the Secretariat to examine those weapons and previously seized weapons, in order to corroborate the information provided and independently ascertain the origin of the shipments,” Ban writes.

Ban’s report also states that on, “On 24 June 2016, the Secretary-General of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, stated in a televised speech that it receives all its weapons and missiles from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“Any Iranian arms transfer to Hizbullah would have been undertaken contrary to the provisions,” of the Iran deal, the report says.

With regard to the travel ban, two individuals are named as allegedly having violated that ban by travelling to Syria and Iraq. The allegations in one instance are backed up by photos of one banned individual, General Qasem Soleimani, at the citadel in Aleppo.

On travel by Soleimani, the report states: “In recent months, additional information from open sources suggests that Major General Soleimani continues to engage in foreign travel. In late June 2016, several Iranian media outlets (Fars News Agency, Tasnim News Agency) reproduced pictures of Major General Soleimani visiting the former Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. In October 2016, another Iranian media outlet (Mehr News Agency) reproduced a picture of the General in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, visiting the family of a Kurdish Peshmerga officer killed fighting ISIL militants in 2015. In November 2016, the leader of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militia declared that he was in Mosul along with other Iranian military advisers (Fars News Agency)…. In mid-December 2016, pictures showing the General at the citadel of Aleppo were widely circulated by Iranian and other media outlets (Fars News Agency).”

 

General Mohammad Reza Naqdi conducted a field tour in Quneitra

General Mohammad Reza Naqdi conducted a field tour in Quneitra

The other individual allegedly violating the travel ban is Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, former Deputy Chief of Armed Forces General Staff for Logistics and Industrial Research. Ban’s report says he “traveled to the Syrian Arab Republic in March and July 2016. In the following days, … media outlets reproduced pictures of him reportedly in the Golan region, near Qunaytirah, as well as in the Sayyidah Zainab mosque in Damascus.”

Ban’s full report is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Iran Denies Arms Transfers Cited in UN Report on Nuclear Deal

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July 18, 2016 – Ban Ki-moon said in his first report to the Security Council on the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal that he has received no information that nuclear related technology has been sold, transferred, or exported to Iran since the deal was implemented six months ago.

The report, discussed by the Council on Monday, did however contain information that a weapons shipment confiscated by the US Navy in March was bound for Yemen, in contravention of the agreement which bans Iran from exporting weapons for five years.

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Ban wrote that the United States seized the weapons in international waters off the Gulf of Oman after its naval forces boarded a dhow, the Adris, on March 28, 2016. The United States in its report to Ban said the weapons shipment was likely bound for Yemen.

In its response, Tehran denied that the shipment originated in Iran and stated that it never engaged in such activity.

The report also cites the launching of ballistic missiles by Iran in early March. Resolution 2231 bans Iran for eight years from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.

Screenshot 2016-07-18 at 4.05.23 PMOther concerns raised in the report include Iran’s participation in a weapons exhibit in Iraq. Iran claims that the weapons displayed remained in Iranian ownership despite having crossed an international border.

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The report also cites the travel of Major General Qasem Soleimani of the IRGC to Iraq in violation of a travel ban imposed by the Security Council. Iran says Soleimani was in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government during its Fallujah operation.

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For its part, Iran says it has yet to realize the benefits of the deal as its overseas assets are still frozen, that Iranian civilian aircraft are not given fuel at some EU destinations and that state and local governments in the US have sent threatening letters to foreign banks that invest in the Iranian energy sector.

The full report is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Deputy UN Chief Eliasson to Head Search for Next Refugee Commissioner

Jan Eliasson: the former Swedish FM is heading the search for a new high-commissioner for refugees

Jan Eliasson: the Swedish diplomat is heading the search for a new high-commissioner for refugees

Sept. 24, 2015 – A panel headed by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will present a short-list of three names to Ban Ki-moon in the coming weeks as he seeks to find a replacement for Antonio Gutteres as high commissioner for refugees.

Gutteres is stepping down after ten years in the post and his successor will take over at a crucial time in the agency’s 65 year history. There are currently 60 million refugees around the world, a figure which includes 40 million displaced inside their own borders and five million Palestinian refugees, whose welfare is handled by a separate agency, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Among those vying for the post is the former head of UNRWA, Italian Filippo Grandi. He stepped down last year as commissioner-general of the agency that he joined in 2005 as deputy commissioner-general. He assumed the top post in 2010. During his time with UNRWA, he oversaw major refugee crises including the 2006 Lebanon war, the destruction of the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon in 2007, the 2009-09 Gaza conflict and the conflict in Syria, which is home to some 550,000 Palestinian refugees under UNRWA’s care.

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and the head of the UN Environemntal Program Achim Steimer are also among the candidates. The short-list is expected to include at least one female candidate. Once Ban makes his selection, he then sends it to the General Assembly for rubber stamping, which will likely happen in November.

The new refugees high-commissioner will head a 10,000 person agency working in some 123 countries. UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, in 1954 and 1981.

Eight of the ten previous high commissioners for refugees have been Europeans. The only non-Europeans were Japan’s Sadako Ogata, who served from 1990-2000 – and who is also the only woman to have headed the agency – and Iran’s Sadruddin Aga Khan, who was high-commissioner from 1965-1977.

- Denis Fitzgerald
@denisfitz

Related Story: Former Danish PM Nominated to Head UN Refugee Agency

Security Council Adopts Resolution Endorsing Iran Deal

The Security Council votes unanimously to endorse the Iran nuclear deal (photo: Russian Mission to UN)

The Security Council votes unanimously to endorse the Iran nuclear deal (photo: Russian Mission to UN)

July 20, 2015 – The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached between Iran and the E3+3 on non-proliferation. The terms of the agreement will be implemented 90 days after the adoption of this resolution. The full text of Resolution 2231 is below including, in Annex A, the JCPOA.

Iran Nonproliferation

Part 2 of resolution – List of individuals and entities (cont.).

UN Yemen Aid Appeal Only 15 Percent Funded

Airstrike in Sana'a photo: Ibrahem Qasim - Licensed by Creative Commons

Airstrike in Sana’a, May 2015 – photo: Ibrahem Qasim – Licensed by Creative Commons

July 14, 2015 –  Gulf countries are conspicuous by their absence on the list of donors to the UN’s $1.6 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen where more than 80 percent of the population are in need of assistance.

The United Arab Emirates is the sole donor among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), having committed $18 million towards the $284 million received so far, according to information from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs.

More than 3,200 people have been killed and some 16,000 more injured since a Saudi Arabia-led mission to restore the former Yemeni government began in March after an offensive by Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former president Saleh.

The government in Riyadh has pledged $244 million to the UN appeal but has not delivered the funds. Similarly, Kuwait has pledged $100 million but has also not yet committed.

Oman, Qatar and Bahrain have neither pledged nor committed funds to the appeal. With the exception of Oman, all members of the GCC reportedly have fighter jets taking part in the Saudi-led mission while the United States is providing intelligence and logistical support and has speeded up the sale of arms to the coalition.

Also not among the donors to the UN appeal is Iran. A UN Security Council sanctions committee report last month stated that an Iranian vessel delivered 180 tonnes of weapons in March to a Yemen port under Houthi control.

The US is the top donor to the appeal, having committed $75 million, or 26 percent of the funding received to date.

The UN last week declared the situation inside Yemen a Level 3 humanitarian crisis, the highest level. Only three other humanitarian crisis are designated L3 – Iraq, South Sudan and Syria.

More than 3,500 schools have been closed in Yemen and almost 2 million children are out of school, according to the latest humanitarian situation report from OCHA.

An outbreak of dengue fever has reached six governorates and the UN says it needs to preposition cholera kits ahead of an expected outbreak.

There are increasing cases of measles and rubella and a high risk of a polio outbreak, according to OCHA. At least 160 health facilities are affected by a lack of power and shortages of medicines, IV fluids and surgical supplies.

A delivery of 10,000 doses of Oxytocin has been made to the Ministry of Health to assist women in labor, OCHA says.

A humanitarian pause that was due to take hold over the weekend never materialized.

The full list of donors to the UN appeal for Yemen is below.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Yemen aid appeal

A Guide to the Six UN Security Council Resolutions on Iran’s Nuclear Program

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July 13, 2015 – The UN Security Council has passed six resolutions against Iran over its nuclear program, specifically requesting that Tehran end uranium enrichment activities and comply with requests from the International Atomic Energy Association. Collectively, the resolutions impose an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

1. Resolution 1696 was passed in July 2006 in response to an IAEA report that Iran had not complied with its safeguards agreement. It was adopted with 14 countries in favor and one non-permanent member against, Qatar. The text called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and to comply with the IAEA, stating that otherwise the Council would impose punitive measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter. Article 41 allows for measures not involving the use of force, i.e. sanctions.

Full text of Resolution 1696

2. Resolution 1737 was passed in December 2006 in response to Iran’s failure to comply with Resolution 1696. The text imposed sanctions – in this case, an assets freeze – against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s nuclear program. Currently, there are 43 individuals and 78 entities on the sanctions list. The resolution also banned the sale, supply and transfer of designated nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1737

3. Resolution 1747 was passed in March 2007 and tightened the sanctions against Iran including preventing the export of arms from the country as well as adding individuals and entities to the list of those under an assets freeze. It also called on states to report to the Sanctions Committee the entry of certain individuals into their territory. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1747

4. Resolution 1803 was passed in March 2008 and for the first time imposed a travel ban on certain individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program. It also added to the list of individuals that states must report to the 1737 Committee if they enter into or transit through their territory. Fourteen countries voted for the resolution while non-permanent member Indonesia abstained.

Full text of Resolution 1803

5. Resolution 1835 was adopted in September 2008. Unlike the previous four resolutions it was not adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. It imposed no new measures against Tehran but reiterated the four previous resolutions and endorsed a statement from the president of the Security Council calling for an “early, negotiated solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue. The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Full text of Resolution 1835

6. Resolution 1929 was adopted in June 2010 and tightened the arms embargo against Iran as well as expanding the list of individuals and entities subject to an asset freeze and travel ban. Non-permanent members Turkey and Brazil voted against the resolution while fellow non-permanent member Lebanon abstained.

Full text of Resolution 1929

Iran to UN: Saudi Arabia Must Prosecute Drunk Driving Diplomat Who Killed Tehran Man

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Oct. 13, 2014 – Iran’s government has told Ban Ki-moon that it expects Saudi authorities to prosecute a diplomat who it says killed an Iranian civilian while driving drunk in Tehran last year.

The information was in a report released by the United Nations on Monday on measures taken by UN member states to protect diplomats and diplomatic premises.

In the report, Iran’s mission to the UN says the diplomat, Yasser bin Mohammed Al-Qarni, was involved in previous cases of driving while intoxicated and that the Saudi government was informed of these incidents but “had failed to properly address the serious offenses committed by its staff.”

With regard to the incident in which Iran says one of its citizens was killed, Iran’s submission states that: “Based on the report provided by the Tehran Traffic Police, at 5.30 a.m. on 14 March 2013, Mr. Al-Qarni exceeded the speed limit, considerably endangering the lives of other motorists and pedestrians and causing the car to swerve out of control, killing an Iranian civilian and seriously injuring two others, including a police officer.”

“The cause of the accident was proved to be high speed and reckless driving of the motorist while under the influence of alcohol, which constitutes a serious crime under Iranian national laws.”

Drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited in both Saudi Arabia, where its consumption is punishable by public flogging, and Iran, where two people were sentenced to death for their third alcohol offense in 2012.

In a July report, Saudi Arabia lodged a complaint with the UN that Al-Qarni had his diplomatic rights violated after a “motor vehicle accident.” The Saudi complaint said Al-Qarni was “subjected to medical tests,” had his passport confiscated and was banned from leaving the country. After “vigorous attempts” by the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, Al Qarni was allowed leave Iran two months after the incident.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly denied that Al-Qarni was driving drunk.

Ban Ki-moon is required to issue a report on measures taken by member states to protects diplomats and diplomatic premises following a December 2012 General Assembly resolution.

The resolution was passed in response to a 2011 plot which resulted in a Texas-based Iranian-American being found guilty of involvement in a plan to hire a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a Washington DC restaurant in order to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Ban Ki-moon Disinvites Iran to Geneva II Talks

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Jan 20, 2014 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has rescinded his invitation to Iran to participate in the Geneva II Syria talks on Wednesday.

In New York, Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, reading from a prepared statement, said Monday: “In a series of meetings and telephone conversations, senior Iranian officials assured the Secretary-General that Iran understood and supported the basis and goal of the Conference, including the Geneva Communiqué.

“The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment.  He continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva Communiqué.  Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, he has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran’s participation.”

The text of the Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional government with full executive powers, is here.

(photo/UN photo)

Iran’s UN Envoy: No Preconditions for Geneva Syria Talks

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Jan. 20, 2014 – Tehran’s envoy to the United Nations in New York on Monday stated that Iran will not participate in the Geneva II Syria talks if it has to accept the Geneva communique.

Here is the response by the mission’s spokesperson, Alireza Miryousefi: “Regarding to the inquiry of the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran concerning the participation of Iran’s Geneva II Conference, the response of permanent representative of Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN, Amb. Khazaee is as follows: The Islamic Republic of Iran appreciates the efforts of the UN Secretary General and his special envoy, Mr. Brahimi in finding a political solution for Syrian crisis. Iran has always been supportive of finding a political solution for this crisis.
“However the Islamic Republic of Iran does not accept any preconditions for its participation in Geneva II conference. If the participation of Iran is conditioned to accept Geneva I communique, Iran will not participate in Geneva II conference.”

The text of the Geneva Communiqué, which was agreed on at a similar but smaller conference in June 2012, is here.

Thirty Countries to Get Invites for Geneva Conference on Syria But Not Yet Iran

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UPDATED: Jan 19, 2013: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to the Geneva II talks, saying on Sunday that Tehran must be part of the solution and indicating that it supports the Geneva 1 communique which called for a transitional government with full executive powers. “They (Iran) said that they are committed to play a very constructive and important positive role. And they said that they welcome the Geneva Communique,” Ban said. “So based on my conversations, several times with Iranian delegations, then I am convinced that they will be in support of this Geneva Communique and they will play a very important and positive constructive role”  

In addition to Iran, Ban has invited nine more countries to the talks bringing the total number of countries participating to 40. The new invitees, in addition to Iran, are Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Greece, the Holy See, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Mexico and South Korea.

Jan. 6, 2013 – The UN is inviting thirty countries to participate in the Geneva II conference on Syria but opposition from the US is holding up a decision on Iran’s participation.

Spokesperson Farhan Haq announced on Monday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was sending invitations to the list of countries agreed on Dec. 20 at a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Besides representatives of the Syrian government and opposition, the invitees include the permanent members of the Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – as well as Algeria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

High Representative of the EU, Cathy Ashton, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil ElAraby, and Organization for Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Iyad bin Amin Madani are also invited to the conference to be convened by Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 22 in Montreux.

At a Dec. 20, 2013 press conference in Geneva, Brahimi told reporters that the UN favored Iran’s participation “but our partners in the United States are still not convinced that Iran’s participation would be the right thing to do.”

John Kerry said on Sunday in Jerusalem that Iran needs to accept the Geneva I communiqué, which called for a transitional government with full executive powers, before it gets an invite.

The first Geneva conference was held in June 2012. An estimated 15,000 people had died in the Syrian conflict at that point. At least 100,000 more have been killed since.

The text of the Geneva I communiqué is here.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

photo: UN photo/JC McIlwaine