“For years now, Iran has been ignoring the international community’s demands, has avoided IAEA inspections, and has not kept her word or complied with the Security Council resolutions. I myself hoped that negotiation could really take place and that targets would be set. Once again this negotiation did not succeed. France does not accept this violation, which is a threat to regional security and, as we know, a threat to global peace. So we are ready to impose new sanctions – not to punish the great people of Iran but to say to their leaders that they must resume the negotiations before it’s too late.”
François Hollande, President of the French Republic, Opening debate of the 67th session of the General Assembly, 25 September 2012
Iran’s secret development of a nuclear program in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty constitutes a major, international security crisis that is liable to seriously undermine the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Iran’s continuing violation of its obligations to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities - confirmed by the IAEA (in its reports)- and its repeated refusal to negotiate with the Six (E3+3: Germany, France, United Kingdom + United States, China, Russia) left the Security Council with no other choice than to increase the pressure on Tehran.
The Iranian regime also has an appalling record in terms of fundamental freedoms and human rights which are systematically and massively violated as regularly signaled by the UN General Assembly and the Council of Human Rights in Geneva.
The complete timeline of events here.
France, with its partners of the E3+3, has taken a consistent dual track approach: dialogue and firmness. The six resolutions, including four with sanctions, that were adopted reflect this dual track approach.
— In Resolution 1696 (July 2006), the Security Council calls on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.
The three resolutions that followed are sanctions resolutions and are designed to address proliferating activities, by barring the supply of sensitive goods, increasing financial vigilance, strengthening the IAEA, encouraging the inspection of suspect cargo and imposing a travel ban on individuals involved in the nuclear program. In particular:
— Resolution 1737 (December 2006), adopted unanimously, prohibits the delivery to Iran of sensitive nuclear material and freezes the overseas assets of 12 leaders and 10 companies linked to the Iranian nuclear or ballistic programs. A sanctions committee was established under this resolution to ensure the proper implementation of these measures and grant waivers if needed in specific cases (medical or humanitarian reasons). The chairman of the Committee presents quarterly reports to the Security Council in public meetings.
— Resolution 1747 (March 2007), adopted unanimously, imposes an embargo on arms as well as new financial sanctions: asset freeze for 15 new individuals and 13 companies involved in nuclear research or the production of ballistic missiles (including Bank Sepah and other companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards).
— Resolution 1803 (March 2008), adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Indonesia) reinforces travel bans and financial restrictions (thirteen new companies and twelve individuals). The technologies that have dual use (civilian and military) are put under embargo. It calls on states to inspect at their ports or airports, take cargo going to and coming from Iran if there is suspicion on the presence of prohibited goods. It calls on states to exercise vigilance, particularly in transactions with Iranian banks (Melli and Saderat.)
— Resolution 1835 (September 2008) demands that Iran comply with all its obligations.
— Resolution 1929 of 9 June 2010 significantly reinforces the sanctions regime. It was adopted with 12 votes in favour, two against (Brazil, Turkey) and one abstention (Lebanon). The Permanent Representative of France, Mr. Gérard Araud, made a statement after the vote as well as remarks to the press after the meeting. During the meeting, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom read a Ministerial Statement on behalf of the E3+3.
The Six presented to the Iranian authorities on 14 June 2008 a proposal in which they expressed their readiness to engage in various areas of cooperation with Iran on condition that Iran suspend its enrichment activities. These areas of cooperation cover nuclear energy, political dialogue, economic issues, energy partnership, agriculture, environment and infrastructure, civil aviation, human development and humanitarian issues. This proposal remains on the table and was annexed to resolution 1929 (Annex IV) of 10 June 2010.
In April 2009 the Six offered to meet with Iran’s chief negotiator, Mr. Jalili. On 9 September 2009, Iran transmitted a "Package of Proposals for Comprehensive and Constructive Negociations" to the Six. Mr Solana, High Representative of the EU, said he would meet, along with the political directors of the E3 +3, with Mr. Jalili on 1 October 2009.
On 24 September 2009, at a meeting of the Security Council at the level of Heads of State and Government devoted to disarmament and non-proliferation, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the Iran issue during his speech : “Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council resolutions. Since 2005, Secretary-General, the international community has called on Iran to engage in dialogue. An offer of dialogue was made in 2005, an offer of dialogue was made in 2006, an offer of dialogue was made in 2007, an offer of dialogue was made in 2008, and another one was made in 2009. President Obama, I support the Americans’ outstretched hand. But what did the international community gain from these offers of dialogue? Nothing. More enriched uranium, more centrifuges, and on top of that, a statement by Iranian leaders proposing to wipe a UN member State off the map. What are we doing? What conclusions are we drawing? There comes a time when facts are stubborn and decisions must be made. If we want in the end to have a world without nuclear weapons, let us not accept the violation of international rules. I understand perfectly well the various positions of the different parties, but all of us may one day be threatened by a neighbour who has obtained a nuclear weapon.”
The Iranian government sent a letter on 21 September 2009 to the IAEA in Vienna referring to a new enrichment site near the city of Qum, years after construction began. On 25 September, in the margin of the G20 Conference in Pittsburgh (the day after the meeting of the Security Council devoted to disarmament and non-proliferation), the American and French presidents and the British prime minister publicly revealed the existence of this enrichment site. In a joint statement they declared that the facility constituted "a violation of Iran’s obligations under UN Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements," and that " Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a breach of the global non-proliferation regime". On this occasion, President Sarkozy stated: "The Six will meet with the Iranian leaders in Geneva [on 1rst October], and everything must now be put on the table. Let us not allow the Iranian leaders to buy time while the centrifuges are turning. And if by December there is no significant change in policy on the part of the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken. Peace and stability are at stake.”
The EU representative Javier Solana, along with the political directors of the Six, met Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili on 1 October 2009 in Geneva. Iran indicated its intention to cooperate with the IAEA on the site of Qom with IAEA early on site inspection (an inspection took place at the end of October). The Six also proposed that low-enriched uranium in Iran be exported outside the country, to be enriched to 20% and transformed into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran under the control and the IAEA safeguards. On 18 November however, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mottaki said his country would not agree to this offer. On 29 November, Iran announced it would enrich uranium to the level of 20%. It started enrichment in February 2010.
The Six met in New York on 16 January 2010 to assess the state of the Iranian nuclear issue and to discuss the conclusions to be drawn. They were represented by their political directors, except for China which sent a counselor from their permanent mission to the UN. This meeting marked the beginning of negotiations between the Six which led to the presentation of a draft fourth sanctions resolution to the Security Council on 18 May.
- In a report published on 18 February 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed its concern about "the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile”. The report confirmed that Iran had started enriching uranium beyond the level required to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, which Iran does not have. The IAEA added that Iran "has not provided the necessary cooperation (…) to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”.
On 17 May 2010, following a visit to Teheran by the president of Brazil and the Prime minister of Turkey the day before, Iran announced it had accepted that low-enriched uranium in Iran be exported outside the country, to be enriched and transformed into fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. The spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the following statement:
"The announcement of an Iranian response regarding the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), more than six months after the IAEA issued its initial proposal, can be credited to the efforts of Brazil and Turkey; we pay tribute to these efforts (...). However, let’s not delude ourselves; a solution to the TRR issue, if applicable, would not in any way resolve the problem of Iran’s nuclear program. The planned exchange of uranium is only a confidence-building measure, a contribution. The continuation of enrichment activities in Natanz, the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak, the concealment of the Qom site and the continued lack of response to the IAEA inspectors’ questions – these are at the heart of the Iranian nuclear issue. Iran has been enriching uranium to 20% since the IAEA proposal was issued in October."
On the following day, 18 May, the five permanent members presented a draft for a new sanctions resolution to the Council. It was adopted on 10 June 2010 as resolution 1929.
The spokesperson of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the following declaration on the adoption of the resolution:
"The Security Council has just adopted Resolution 1929 by a great majority. This is the fourth sanctions resolution against Iran. As with each of the previous resolutions regarding Tehran, the five permanent members voted in its favour. It includes measures in many areas, including transport, arms, and the banking and financial sectors.
This resolution once again highlights the international community’s deep concerns about the Iranian nuclear program, which were further confirmed by the IAEA’s latest report. It showed that Iran is continuing its enrichment activities and its projects linked to heavy water, in breach of resolutions from the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, and without any credible civilian aim. The report also stated that Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA remains wholly insufficient, especially on issues linked to the military aspect of the Iranian program.
The Security Council’s newly-adopted resolution is also due to Iran’s refusal to respond to the numerous offers of dialogue and cooperation from the Six (Germany, China, United States, France, United Kingdom and Russia).
This stance left the international community with no option but to strengthen sanctions against Iran. By deciding for the fourth time to adopt sanctions aimed at the Iranian leaders – and not the people – they are sending out a very clear message: Iran can either continue its sensitive activities in breach of international law and therefore face increased isolation, or it can choose to cooperate and finally accept to enter into genuine negotiations with the Six.
The sanctions are not an end in themselves. The resolution, and the statement from the six Foreign Affairs Ministers after the vote, recall that we want to reach a negotiated solution which meets the needs of Iran while reassuring the international community as to the purposes of its nuclear program.
France expresses its thanks to Brazil and Turkey for their efforts to this effect.
The door to dialogue remains open and we hope that Iran will finally decide to cooperate."
On 26 July 2010, the Foreign Ministers of the European Union adopted a decision in order to implement resolution 1929 and put in place more sanctions at EU level. Additional sanctions are put in place in several sectors: energy (investment ban, ban on the provision of key equipment, technical assistance or financial services), transport (ban on the main Iranian shipping company, IRISL and its subsidiaries), banks, insurance, trade, as well as assets freeze for new entities and individuals linked to the Guardians of the Revolution.
On 6 September 2010, the IAEA released its report on Iran’s cooperation with the Agency. The spokesperson of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs made the following statement:
“We thank the IAEA Director General and his teams for the new report on Iran.
The international community sent a very clear message through resolution 1929 adopted by the UN Security Council on June 9: Iran can either continue her sensitive activities in violation of international law and therefore face growing isolation, or it can choose to cooperate. France and its “E3+3” partners remain determined to reach a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis and hope that Iran will finally heed the calls for dialogue by the Six and will swiftly choose to cooperate.
This report, the first since the adoption of resolution 1929, shows that the Iranian leaders are for now still turning a deaf ear to these messages. Iran is in fact continuing to stockpile uranium enriched to 3.5% and to 20% and to conduct heavy water-related activities, despite the fact that the Security Council has demanded the suspension of this type of activity in Iran. Furthermore, the report again underlines the many failings with respect to Iran’s cooperation with the Agency.
This attitude remains of serious concern to France.”
A meeting of the Six and Lady Ashton, High Representative of the EU, with the Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili took place in Geneva on 6 and 7 December 2010, the first such meeting since October 2009 (See the statement made by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of E3+3 after the talks with Iran).
Another meeting took place on 21 and 22 January 2011. No progress was made at this meeting. The Six put forward detailed ideas including on an updated version of the TRR fuel exchange arrangement and ways to improve transparency through IAEA monitoring measures accepted by the international community. But it became clear that the Iranian side was not ready for this unless the Six agreed to pre-conditions relating to enrichment and sanctions. On the fuel cycle the Six would recognise Iran’s right to a civil nuclear energy programme once it demonstrated that its program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. As far as the removal of sanctions is concerned, UNSCR 1929 specified the requirements for removal of sanctions, requirement that have not been met (See the statement made by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of E3+3 following the talks with Iran).
The spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry said on 25 January 2011: "In dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue, the Six have consistently been committed to the dual-track approach that relies on both dialogue and firmness. As Iran continues to refuse dialogue by posing unacceptable conditions prior to discussions, the issue of a strengthening of sanctions is now raised."
On 24 May 2011, the IAEA issued a report on Iran. The next day, the spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry stated:
"This report demonstrates that Iran is continuing its activities in the enrichment and heavy water-related fields, in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. It is feeding an ever increasing number of centrifuges by stockpiling uranium enriched to 3.5% and 20%.
The report is particularly detailed with respect to the issues related to possible militarization activities and indicates that the IAEA is more concerned than ever by the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities in this field. The agency mentions in particular 7 areas of specific concern regarding which it is still awaiting explanations on the part of the Iranians.
Lastly, Iran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA does not provide any guarantees regarding the civilian nature of the Iranian program and continues to fuel doubts in this respect.
In this context, we regret the fact that during the meetings this winter in Geneva and Istanbul Iran did not want to seriously consider the offers of cooperation issued by the Six and our concrete proposals aimed at establishing trust and facilitating the start of dialogue. On the contrary, Iran set out preconditions for the dialogue that conflicted with the Security Council resolutions and were unacceptable to the Six.
All of these elements justify our deep concern.
In light of this situation and in accordance with the two-pronged approach based on dialogue and firmness continuously pursued by France and its partners, the European Union decided on Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting to significantly expand the list of entities and persons subject to sanctions.
For our part, we remain open to dialogue and hope that Iran will swiftly choose to cooperate and enter into negotiations with the Six."
6 March 2013 - Security Council - Iran/Sanctions Committee - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
13 December 2012 - Security Council - Iran/Sanctions Committee - Statement by Mr. Martin Briens, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
27 September 2012 - Iran/Non proliferation - Remarks to the press by Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs
25 September 2012 - 67th United Nations General Assembly - Speech by Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic
All French statements here.
On 7 June, 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2049 - renewing the Panel of Experts’ mandate with respect to the Iranian nuclear issue until 9 July 2013
21 November 2011 - General Assembly - Resolution - Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
18 November 2011 - General Assembly - Resolution A/RES/66/12
9 June 2011 - Resolution 1984 - Renewal for one year of the mandate of the Independent Panel of Experts
9 June 2010 - Adoption of Resolution 1929 - E3+3 Ministerial Statement
9 June 2010 - Resolution 1929 (2010) - Establishing sanctions
25 September 2009, Pittsburgh: Joint declaration of Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic and Mr. Gordon BROWN, Prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great-Britain and Northern Ireland
27 September 2008 - Resolution 1835 (2008) - Iran’s obligations to comply with Security Council’s resolutions and to cooperate with IAEA
3 March 2008 - Resolution 1803 (2008) - Establishing sanctions
2 April 2007 - Resolution 1747 (2007) - Establishing sanctions
27 December 2006 - Resolution 1737 (2006) - Establishing sanctions
31 July 2006 - Resolution 1696 (2006) - Cooperation with IAEA
29 March 2006: Statement by the President of the Security Council - Following IAEA’s report