UNSC Resolution endorsing the JCPOA

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The United Nations Security Council today, in resolution 2231 (2015), that has been presented as a draft late last week by the US, has unanimously endorsed the JCPOA between its five permanent members plus Germany and Iran, concluded on July 14, 2015. The Associated Press has summarized the salient points of the resolution as follows:


The resolution endorses the agreement, urges its full implementation and calls on all countries, regional and international organizations to take actions needed to implement it.


The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency must verify and monitor Iran’s nuclear-related commitments and the resolution says “Iran shall cooperate fully as the IAEA requests to be able to resolve all outstanding issues.”


When Iran has completed a series of major steps to curb its nuclear program, and the IAEA has concluded that “all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities,” seven U.N. Security Council resolutions related to sanctions against Iran will be terminated.


If one of the parties to the nuclear deal, like the United States, determines that Iran is not fulfilling its commitments, it can ask for a Security Council vote on a new resolution to continue the lifting of all U.N sanctions resolutions on Iran. When a vote takes place, the U.S. or the four other permanent members of the Security Council — Russia, China, Britain and France — could then veto the resolution, and the sanctions would automatically “snap back” in 30 days. Thus, by voting down a resolution on continuing lifting the sanctions, the Council would effectively be putting them back in place.


All provisions of the U.N. resolution will terminate in 10 years, including the “snap back” provision, and the resolution states that “the Security Council will have concluded its consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue.” The six powers that negotiated with Iran — the five veto-wielding Security Council members and Germany — and the European Union sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week saying they have agreed to extend the “snap back” provision for an additional five years. They asked the letter, which is not legally binding, to be sent to the Security Council.

The Obama administration has chosen to ignore, and in fact to actively by-pass, Congress. It has barely managed to submit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, its annexes, as well as an unclassified and a classified assessment by the US intelligence community, on time before the crucial vote in New York. This submission sets in motion the clock, for 60 days, during which Congress can review the agreement. Initial reaction, by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee’s chairman, Bob Corker (R) and its ranking member, Ben Cardin (D) has taken issue with this course. Shjould the Congress vote down the JCPOA, President Obama has already threatened to veto such a decision. In that case, both Houses need to reaffirm their initial decision by a two-thirds majority, to overcome a presidential veto. At this point in time, it is entirely open, if Congress has such a majority.

Also in a first reaction to the vote in New York, Israel Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahuissued a statement that the conctinuation of US Congressional sanctions is what matters most, rather than today’s actions at the UN.

Moravi Ödön

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