U.S. Unhappy That Iran’s Complaints Were Included in UN Report on Nuclear Deal

By Patrick Goodenough | July 19, 2016 | 4:29am EDT
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman addresses the U.N. Security Council. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

(CNSNews.com) – Six months after the Iran nuclear deal began taking effect, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon provided the U.N. Security Council Monday with a report on the implementation of the resolution that endorsed the deal – and annoyed the U.S. by including in it Iranian complaints about sanctions relief.

The Obama administration said those complaints should not have been included in Ban’s compliance report, noting that the parties negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had established a separate body to deal with such points of dispute.

The report, presented to the Security Council on Ban’s behalf by Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, said “[t]he Islamic Republic of Iran brought to the attention of the secretariat its view that it has yet to fully benefit from the lifting of multilateral and national sanctions.”

It added that Iran’s expressed concerns included new eligibility requirements for travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program (VWP).

“Implementation challenges exist for any agreement, in particular one as comprehensive and complex as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Ban wrote.

“I call upon all participants to remain steadfast in their commitment to the full implementation of the agreement and work through challenges in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, good faith and reciprocity.”

But U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, speaking during the Security Council briefing, said Ban should not have included Iran’s complaints in the report.

“The United States disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope,” she said.

“While some have argued that, to be balanced, the report should give Iran a chance to express complaints about sanctions relief under the deal, the Security Council did not mandate the secretariat to report on issues unrelated to” the resolution’s implementation, she said.

Power added that the JCPOA negotiators had “carefully designed” an entity called the Joint Commission to resolve such issues, “and that is the appropriate channel to raise such concerns.”

(The Joint Commission comprises Iran, the six countries which negotiated the deal – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – and the European Union.)

Powers declared that the U.S. has fully implemented all sanctions-related commitments in the JCPOA.

It had moreover gone further than that, she added, engaging “with governments, businesses, and banks around the world that have questions about our changed sanctions environment.”

Iran was furious when U.S. lawmakers took steps late last year to tighten the VWP, claiming that the restrictions would violate U.S. commitments under the JCPOA.

Administration officials also fretted about the proposals, as did some European governments, whose citizens are affected by the changes.

Signed into law last December as part of an omnibus spending bill, the changes require an additional layer of screening before citizens of the 38 VWP partner countries who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 2011 travel to the U.S.

They also apply to citizens of VWP partner countries who hold dual Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese or Iraqi citizenship.

Iran protested, and Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif assured him that the changes would be implemented in a way “so as not to interfere with legitimate business interests of Iran” or violate the Iran nuclear agreement.

Kerry told his Iranian counterpart that the administration has “a number of potential tools available” to do so, such as multiple-entry, 10-year business visas, and waiver authority contained in the new legislation.

Some Republican critics slammed Kerry for what House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) called “a desperate attempt to appease the regime.”

Other parts of the report presented to the council by Feltman Monday were critical of Iranian behavior since JCPOA implementation began. They included:

--sending weapons to militias in Iraq without prior approval from the Security Council.

--ballistic missile launches (Ban said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether the launches were inconsistent with the resolution, but that in his view they were “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the JCPOA signing, and called on Iran to stop.)

--the travel of the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, despite being under a U.N. travel ban. (Ban cited reports that Soleimani had visited Iraq in violation of the ban; he did not mention reports last April that Soleimani also traveled to Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council.)

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