EghtesadOnline: A top UN official said the world body, which is monitoring Iran's compliance with a resolution regarding its nuclear deal with major powers, has not found Tehran in breach of missile-related terms of the resolution adopted to endorse the international agreement.
The accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was concluded in July 2015 and became effective on January 16 to give Iran sanctions relief in exchange for time-bound restrictions on its nuclear program.
"Since January 16, the secretariat has received no information regarding the supply, sale, transfer or export to Iran of ballistic missile-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of Resolution 2231," United Nations Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said, in a briefing to the UN Security Council on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's first biannual report on JCPOA.
Feltman underlined controversies surrounding the interpretation of the resolution's vague wording.
"There are clear differences in the council regarding whether those ballistic missile launches are inconsistent with the resolution," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks carried on the UN website.
According to Financial Tribune, under Resolution 2231, Iran is "called upon" to refrain from any work related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful applications and that none of its missiles has been designed to deliver nuclear weapons.
Key powers agree that the request in the resolution is not legally binding, but western nations view the language as a ban and say there is a political obligation on Iran to comply.
"Iran too has its own interpretation of this provision. While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, the secretary-general stressed that we must maintain the momentum created by the conclusion of the JCPOA, consistent with its constructive spirit. In this regard, he calls upon Iran to avoid such ballistic missile launches, which have the potential to increase tensions in the region," Feltman said.
Reuters reported earlier this month that the UN chief's confidential report had assessed the tests as inconsistent "with the constructive spirit" of the JCPOA but added it is up to the Security Council to decide if they violated the resolution.
***US, Russia Criticize Ban's Report
Ban faced criticism from the US and Russia alike on Monday for overstepping his mandate in the report.
"The United States disagrees strongly with elements of this report, including that its content goes beyond the appropriate scope. We understand that Iran also disagrees strongly with parts of the report," US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the council.
Power 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 Ban to report on such issues.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the report contained factual errors and headings in the report, referring to restrictions on Iranian ballistic missile activities, "simply don't coincide with the subject of the report".
"Some of the provisions of the secretary-general's report have no relation to his mandate, nor to the terms of reference of [the UNSC] resolution or the [nuclear deal]," Churkin said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the report, noting that the UN has not been involved in deciding the JCPOA's wording during the pre-deal negotiations.
"The report has been prepared based on insufficient information because [Ban] was not aware of the content of negotiations and had no role in drawing up the action plan," the top diplomat was quoted by Fars News Agency as telling reporters in Tehran on Tuesday.
Hours before the UNSC meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Bahram Qasemi, dismissed the report as unbalanced and biased, saying it has violated the letter and spirit of the pact.
"This report runs counter to the letter and spirit of the JCPOA and even Resolution 2231," Qasemi said.
Ban's report said Iran complained that it had yet to fully benefit from the lifting of sanctions, raising concerns about US travel restrictions and the confiscation of Iranian Central Bank assets under a US court order.
Qasemi praised the report's reference to Iran's grievances, but said, "Regrettably, the report ignores such cases very easily and avoids making a serious request to the other side of the JCPOA to remain committed to their obligations."