By J. Nastranis
NEW YORK | VIENNA (IDN) – While the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the Security Council announced on January 17 that it has removed Iranian Bank Sepah and its international subsidiary from a sanctions list.
The initiative followed the announcement previous day of a UN report confirming that Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue.
In separate moves, the U.S. President Barack Obama revoked a 20-year system of sanctions against Iran and Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and a Council member of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), announced the lifting of EU economic blockade against Tehran on January 16.
The UN report was submitted to the 15-nation Security Council after UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to enable “Implementation Day” to occur.
In July 2015, Iran and a group of six countries – China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – reached the JCPOA through resolution 2231 (2015), entrusting the IAEA with verifying and monitoring Iran’s commitments.
Under the plan, Iran pledged never under any circumstances to seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, and the UN Security Council is to consider ending sanctions imposed for its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) violations.
The resolution noted that the JCPOA will “terminate all provisions of previous UN Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue […] simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran.”
Bank Sepah had been under a Council-mandated asset freeze since 2007. It provides support for the Aerospace Industries Organisation (AIO) and subordinates, including Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) and Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group (SBIG).
“This is a significant milestone that reflects the good faith effort by all parties to fulfil their agreed commitments,” said Ban in a statement issued by his Spokesperson.
The report was submitted to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and to the United Nations Security Council, after Agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the E3+3 and Iran.
“The Secretary-General commends the dedication and determination shown on all sides,” the statement indicated. “He encourages the parties to continue to implement the JCPOA in the months and years ahead.”
The UN chief further underlined that this achievement demonstrates that international proliferation concerns are best addressed through dialogue and patient diplomacy.
“The Secretary-General hopes the success of this agreement contributes to greater regional and international cooperation for peace, security and stability in the region and beyond,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, IAEA’s Director General, Yukiya Amano, said “Implementation Day” paves the way to begin verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the agreement.
“Relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase,” he said in a statement. “It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality, especially the group of countries known as the E3/EU+3, Iran and the IAEA Board.”
In line with its commitments, Iran will now start to provisionally implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, which Amano said “increases the Agency’s ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran and to verify that they are peaceful”.
“We have come a long way since the IAEA first started considering the Iran nuclear issue in 2003,” he noted. “A lot of work has gone into getting us here, and implementation of this agreement will require a similar effort. For our part, we are ready to get on with the job.”
Separately, UN Chief welcomed reports today of the release of a number of Americans who had been detained in Iran, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, and of a number of Iranians held by the United States following an agreement between the two Governments. [IDN-InDepthNews – 17 January 2016]
Multilateral Diplomacy Triumphs As Sanctions Against Iran Are Lifted
Photo: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano (centre) addresses a special meeting of the Agency’s Board of Governors on Iran held at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Credit: IAEA/Dean Calma