France welcomes the adoption of resolution 1929.
The Council adopted it by a large majority, with the votes of countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and America, countries with or without a nuclear industry and countries with or without trade relations with Iran.
This unity has a clear reason, and all members know it.
For 18 years, Iran has been developing a clandestine nuclear programme. Once that programme was discovered, Iran has unceasingly impeded the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to uncover its objective.
Iran continues to enrich uranium despite five Security Council resolutions and the lack of a credible nuclear power programme on its soil.
The facts are overwhelming; there is no room for doubt. It is sufficient to recall them.
Iran has developed a programme for missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Iran has worked on advanced military studies that are the missing link between enrichment and the ballistic missile programme, in particular on building a delivery vehicle in which a nuclear warhead can be placed, while rejecting all cooperation on that issue with the Agency.
More recently, Iran has built a clandestine enrichment facility at Qom, adapted to military use but far too small for civilian use. That facility would have to function 24 hours a day for 45 years to provide fuel for a civilian reactor.
Finally, in February Iran started to enrich its uranium to 20 per cent, which brings it even closer to a military threshold.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has concluded in its Director General’s report of 31 May that it was impossible for it to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
This, however, was not for lack of increased efforts to lead Iran, through dialogue, to prove its openness.
Since 2003, the three European States — the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom and France — have been seeking to start a dialogue with Iran. That approach resulted in the first European cooperation proposal of August 2005, then the E3+3 proposal of 2006 and a new proposal of June 2008. Significant incentives have been offered to Iran in the nuclear, security, commercial, agricultural and medical fields.
A high-level delegation went to Tehran in June 2008 with a letter signed by the six Ministers, including the United States Secretary of State of that time. Countless meetings, ministerial exchanges and direct, indirect, multilateral and bilateral contacts took place with the Iranians. No effort was spared.
However, those offers did not succeed, owing to the refusal of the Iranians to start negotiations, and for seven months Iran has refused to meet the European Union representative, Baroness Ashton, despite the commitment that it undertook last October.
In that context, my country gratefully welcomes the initiative of Turkey and Brazil on the Tehran Research Reactor as a confidence building measure, and French authorities have indicated this at the highest level.
We welcome the commitment of the two eminent leaders and wish them success.
However, we note that Iran has already spared no effort to strip the agreement of its substance by continuing to enrich its uranium to 20 per cent and reaffirming its intention to continue to do so, which negates the main purpose of the agreement, and by playing for time to ensure that it would have to export only a fraction of its stockpile of uranium to enable it to rapidly rebuild the necessary quantity for a military device.
We have also noted Iran’s biased reading of the agreement, choosing to view it as a justification for unlimited enrichment, a definitive rejection of sanctions and IAEA inspections, and an alibi to avoid discussing its nuclear programme with the E3+3.
Finally and most importantly, a satisfactory agreement on the Tehran Research Reactor, which we sincerely hope to achieve, could be a useful confidence-building measure although it would not address the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is the nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, the discovery of the clandestine facility in Qom, enrichment to 20 per cent and Iran’s obstruction of the IAEA’s efforts. This problem remains unchanged, and Iran’s refusal to resolve it forces us to be firm today.
For these reasons, the sanctions resolution that we have just adopted is an appropriate response. The resolution is robust, yet specific and targeted. It is not aimed at the Iranian people. Its measures will increase the cost to Iran of its proliferation policy. They will slow down the progress of the nuclear programme and thereby give us more time for diplomacy.
In fact, it was the very least we could do following the discovery of the clandestine facility in Qom and the beginning of enrichment to 20 per cent. It is our duty to protect the non-proliferation Treaty — a vessel that Iran believes it can board without a ticket.
If we did not react to such developments, the message we would send to potential followers of Iran would be: Go ahead. It is also our duty to prevent a regional arms race, which could be provoked by mere doubt concerning the aims of the Iranian programme. It is our duty, finally, to prevent a conflict leading to disastrous consequences in an unstable region.
That being said, the door of dialogue remains open. This includes discussions on the Tehran Research Reactor. Fully mindful of Brazil and Turkey’s efforts, France, the United States and Russia have written to the IAEA Director General to share with him the problematic issues raised by the Tehran agreement. We will propose an experts meeting with Iran as soon as possible to reach agreement on these issues. We are also ready to consider other confidence-building measures, as spelled out in the resolution that we have just adopted.
However, this is a decision that we cannot take alone. It is now up to Iranian leaders to take the hand offered to them, as we have urged them to do for nearly seven years. It is up to them to consider the interests of their people, rather than to pursue a dangerous dream of power at the cost of regional stability. It is up to them to choose integration into international society, reaping its dividends rather than the growing isolation to which they are condemning themselves.
If they are ready for this, we will be there to help them.