UNITED NATIONS - The U.N.'s political chief said Wednesday that the Iran nuclear deal was at a "crossroads" after the U.S. withdrawal last month from the international agreement.
"The secretary-general deeply regrets this setback to the JCPOA and believes that issues not directly related to the plan should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments," Rosemary DiCarlo, undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council during the first meeting about the deal's implementation since the U.S. announced its withdrawal on May 8.
JCPOA is the acronym for the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
DiCarlo noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency had verified Iran's compliance 11 times. But she also urged Tehran to "consider carefully" international concerns about its activities that are contrary to the deal, particularly regarding ballistic missile technology and transfers to Houthi rebels in Yemen and transfers of traditional arms to militant groups in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The U.N. secretary-general wrote in his latest report on the nuclear deal that Saudi Arabia had made nine allegations about ballistic missiles launched from Yemen into its territory that contained parts made in Iran. The secretary-general concluded that "some component parts of the debris were manufactured" in Iran, but that the U.N. "has not yet been able to determine" whether the missiles or their parts were transferred from Iran after the nuclear deal went into force on January 16, 2016.
"Today's report shows that Iran continues to destabilize the region through its support for terrorist groups and proxy forces," U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the council. "With the reimposition 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."
All council members except the United States expressed support for the continuation of the nuclear deal with its remaining members — Britain, France, China, Russia, Germany and Iran.
"We took note, therefore, with regret and concern of the decision made by the United States to withdraw from the JCPOA," said French envoy Francois Delattre. "But the agreement remains, and this decision should not have an impact on the implementation by the parties to the agreement of their commitments." He said France would continue to honor its commitments as long as Iran did.
The European Union oversees the agreement's implementation and had pushed hard for the U.S. to stay in the deal.
"The preservation of the JCPOA is a key security interest for the European Union, but also for the international community as a whole," said EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida.
He said Iran's activities in the region and its ballistic missile activity were issues that fell outside the deal and should be dealt with separately. "Dismantling a nuclear deal that is working would certainly not put us in a better position to discuss other issues," he noted.
"Undoubtedly, it [JCPOA] remains a standard of a multilateral nuclear nonproliferation agreement which other initiatives still have to live up to," he added in a subtle dig at President Donald Trump, who said after his meeting earlier this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that there was no longer a nuclear threat from Pyongyang.
Impact on 'international order'
"We also believe that leaving the JCPOA undermines effective multilateralism, it undermines the rules-based international order — of which the nuclear nonproliferation regime is a very important pillar," Germany's Ambassador Christoph Heusgen told the council.
Russia's envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, criticized Washington for the reimposition of sanctions on Tehran, saying it directly violated the Security Council resolution endorsing the Iran deal.
"The step undertaken by the American side does serious damage to the nuclear nonproliferation regime and to the security interests in the Middle East," he added of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.