US and Iran clash over Russia’s use of Iranian drones in Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and its allies have clashed with Iran and its ally Russia over Western claims that Tehran is supplying Moscow with drones that it has been attacking. Ukraine – and the United States accused the UN secretary general of “caving in to Russian threats” and failing to launch an investigation.

In a contentious Security Council meeting on Monday over the resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers, the United States and Iran also accused each other of responsibility for the deadlock in negotiations over the reinstatement of the Biden government. to the agreement that former President Donald Trump withdrew. of in 2018.

Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, insisted that Iran’s negotiating team exercised “maximum flexibility” in trying to reach a deal and even introduced an “innovative solution to the remaining problems to break the deadlock.” But he claimed the US’s “unrealistic and rigid approach” led to the current stalled talks over the 2015 deal, known as the JCPOA.

“Let’s be clear: pressure, intimidation and confrontation are not solutions and will get you nowhere,” Iravani said.

Iran is ready to resume talks and arrange a ministerial meeting “as soon as possible to declare the restoration of the JCPOA,” Iravani said. “This can be done if the US demonstrates genuine political will… The US now has the ball in its court.”

Speaking before Iravani, US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said that “the door to negotiations remains open” for a mutual return between the US and Iran to full implementation of the JCPOA. But he said: “Iran’s own actions and stances have been responsible for avoiding that outcome.”

In September, a deal that all other parties had agreed to was “within reach” and “even Iran was prepared to say yes,” Wood said, “until at the last minute, Iran made new demands that were unrelated to the JCPOA and I knew it couldn’t be done.”

He said Iran’s conduct since September, in particular its lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, and the expansion of its nuclear program “without a legitimate civilian purpose,” has reinforced the US skepticism “about Iran’s willingness and ability to reach a deal, and explains why there have been no active negotiations since.”

At the end of the council meeting, Wood asked for the floor to refute Iravani, saying it is “a fact” that Iran’s bizarre demands and rejection of all compromise proposals are the reason there has been no return. to mutual compliance with the JCPOA.

“So let me just say that the ball is not in America’s court,” Wood said. “On the contrary, the ball is in Iran’s court.”

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, whose country remains part of the JCPOA, told the council that Iran’s nuclear escalation is making “progress on a nuclear deal much more difficult.”

“Today, Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium exceeds the JCPOA limits by at least 18 times, and it continues to produce highly enriched uranium, which is unprecedented for a state without a nuclear weapons program,” it said.

Furthermore, Woodward said, “Iran’s nuclear breakout time has been reduced to a matter of weeks, and the time required for Iran to produce the fissile material for multiple nuclear weapons is decreasing.” She said Iran is also testing technology that could allow intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry a nuclear payload.

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that “the space for diplomacy seems to be shrinking rapidly.”

He pointed to an IAEA report that Iran intends to install new centrifuges at its Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant and produce more uranium enriched to up to 60% at Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, a level close to that needed to a nuclear weapon. Iran also removed all IAEA equipment that monitors activities related to the JCPOA.

DiCarlo called on Iran to reverse all steps outside the bounds of the JCPOA, and on the United States to lift sanctions on Iran outlined in the nuclear deal and extend waivers on Iranian oil trade.

Iran’s Iravani stressed that all of Iran’s nuclear activities “are peaceful” and said that Iran is ready to engage the IAEA to resolve outstanding issues on nuclear safeguards.

As for what he called the “unfounded accusation” that Iran transferred drones to Russia in violation of the 2015 resolution, Iravani stressed that all restrictions on the transfer of weapons to and from Iran ended in October 2020. It has legal merit.”

Iravani also insisted that the drones were not transferred to Russia for use in Ukraine, saying that “the campaign of disinformation and baseless accusations…have no other purpose than to divert attention from the transfer of massive amounts of advanced weaponry.” and sophisticated from Western states to Ukraine to prolong the conflict.”

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, called allegations of deliveries of Iranian drones to his country for use in Ukraine “patently fabricated and false.” Russia is well aware that Ukrainian representatives “have not been able to provide Tehran bilaterally with any documentation to substantiate the use by Russian military personnel of drones of Iranian origin,” he said.

Wood, the US envoy, told the council that Ukraine’s report on Russia’s use of Iranian-sourced drones to attack civilian infrastructure has been supported “by extensive evidence from multiple public sources,” including a statement by the minister. of Foreign Affairs of Iran on November 5.

He insisted that Iran is prohibited from transferring such drones without prior Security Council approval under an annex to the 2015 resolution.

For seven years, Wood said, the UN has been mandated to investigate allegations of violations of the resolution, and he expressed disappointment that the UN Secretariat, headed by Secretary-General Guterres, has not launched an investigation, “apparently conceding to Russian threats. ”

Russia’s Nebenzia reiterated Moscow’s argument that the investigations are “an egregious violation” of the UN resolution and Charter “and the UN Secretariat should not give in to pressure from Western countries.”

Guterres told a news conference early Monday, when asked about criticism that the UN has not launched an investigation into Iranian-made drones in Ukraine, that “we are looking into all aspects of that question and in the bigger picture of everything we are doing in the context of war to determine if and when we should” conduct an investigation.

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