A scathing report released by the U.N. Security Council detailing Iran’s refusal to comply with existing UN resolutions and international agreements, has raised doubts among lawmakers regarding Iran’s willingness to act as an honest negotiating partner.
“The lesson to draw from the Security Council report is clear,” Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a speech on the Senate Floor. "If Iran continues to violate its current agreements with impunity, how can we expect that Tehran will adhere to a new deal to suspend its nuclear program? This is a matter of plain common sense.”
The report details Iranian non-compliance with the Joint Plan of Action, and catalogues a growing list of Iran’s violations of multiple UN mandates, which include violations of travel restrictions, illicit arms transfer activities, illegally exporting weapons and oil, illegally importing prohibited materials and technology, and "continued nuclear activities.” Senator Hatch is one of a number of top lawmakers expressing concern. "Given these troubling moves, the President should explain to the American people what level of confidence he has negotiating with Iran given how it repeatedly violates the international community’s mandates with impunity,” he said. “The stakes are too high to act as if Iran is a trustworthy partner.”
The Full speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
Mme. President, time and time again, the Islamic Republic of Iran has lied to the international community. The latest evidence emerged in the June 2nd publication by the United Nations Security Council of a scathing report on Iranian non-compliance with the Joint Plan of Action. Written by a diverse panel of international experts, the report catalogues a growing list of Iran’s violations of multiple UN mandates. It deserves to be read widely by all those who care deeply, as I do, about the ongoing P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
The lesson to draw from the Security Council report is clear: If Iran continues to violate its current agreements with impunity, how can we expect that Tehran will adhere to a new deal to suspend its nuclear program? This is a matter of plain common sense.
The specifics of the report paint a profoundly troubling picture. Iranian arms transfer activities have continued uninterrupted, despite the sanctions imposed by the unified international community. These arms have found their way into a number of regional conflicts, fueling instability in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere. Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran’s perennial terrorist allies, continue to turn these weapons against Israel and our other allies in the region. Regional violence has been—and continues to be—Iran’s export of choice.
According to this report, not only does Iran illegally export weapons and oil, it has also imported prohibited materials and technology, circumventing sanctions. The Iranians have long maintained a robust, illicit procurement infrastructure. They have accomplished this through intermediaries controlled by Iranian and pro-Iranian interests, often involving false documentation, shell corporations, and foreign nationals.
For these and other reasons, our French allies have now declared that a rigorous inspection regime that includes military installations should be a prerequisite to any agreement. This should have been our position from the start.
Additionally, the report describes violations of foreign travel restrictions by high-ranking Iranian government officials. One particularly noteworthy violation is the case of Major General Qasem Soleimani [KA-sem SO-lay-mah-knee], the Commander of Iran’s Special Forces Quds Force. Earlier this year, General Soleimani met with the Secretary General of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Just last month, photographs surfaced of General Soleimani surrounded by Shi’ite militia fighters in Iraq’s embattled Anbar province.
I am disappointed to hear some try to minimize these Iranian violations of Security Council resolutions because some Iranian arms and personnel are currently being used against the heinous Islamic State. We must not turn a blind eye to Iranian malfeasance. We must not fall into the trap of accepting Iran’s transgressions simply because they are fighting a common foe.
In this case, the enemy of our enemy is not our friend. Some of the armed Shi’a groups fighting the Islamic State are the same groups that were killing U.S. troops just a few short years ago. They might very well do so again.
A nuclear-armed Iran would be a disaster for the region and the wider world—not only for our Israeli allies, but also for our Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Qatari, and Emirati allies as well. With the continuing turmoil in the region and the threat posed by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups, the world cannot afford a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Considering the hand-in-hand history between Iran and Hezbollah, one could easily translate a nuclear Iran into a nuclear Hezbollah.
It is therefore highly distressing that Iran has, to quote the Security Council, “continued certain nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment and some work at Arak.” If Iran has failed to sufficiently address even the core cause of the sanctions against them, what confidence are we to have moving forward?
It is particularly telling that the UN expert panel assessed that a decline in reports by member states of Iranian violations results from one of two factors: either Iran has decreased its prohibited activities significantly or member states have refrained from reporting non-compliance so as not to disrupt the negotiations process. In light of the revelations contained in this report, the latter appears far more likely.
As the President continues to push for a permanent deal with Iran’s leadership, this report is as alarming as it is timely. Past performance may not universally predict future behavior, but it certainly should be part of the consideration. Moreover, this report is far from the only sign of Iranian malfeasance; as recently as yesterday, the Iranian parliament voted to prohibit international inspections of military sites, casting into serious doubt its commitment to a workable nuclear deal.
Given these troubling moves, the President should explain to the American people what level of confidence he has negotiating with Iran given how it repeatedly violates the international community’s mandates with impunity. The stakes are too high to act as if Iran is a trustworthy partner.