UN Security Council: Can Iran be Trusted?

Written by Nis Hamid and Sahej Verma

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran, the P5+1 countries, and the European Union in November 2013. During early 2016, the UN sanctions placed on Iran were lifted as a result of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) restricting the country’s nuclear activities. Iran has spoken up for its rights to a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. In the same month, Iran has agreed to not engage in any and all activities, research included, that would lead to the development of an atomic bomb, and the country’s number of centrifuges has drastically reduced. Should Iran fail to uphold these promises, the economically crippling sanctions will be reissued automatically. The aforementioned were only the first few steps for the ensured nuclear proliferation of the region. The question on everyone’s minds now is: how well will Iran do with enforcing the JCPOA? This is a prominent and justifiable query because of Iran’s nuclear history.

In the 1970s, Iran was a party to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. However, it was found to be non-compliant with the treaty’s safeguard agreements, particularly by failing to declare its uranium enrichment program. This led to the temporary suspension of its enrichment program. Despite the suspension, Iran resumed its enrichment program. Iran’s failure to cooperate in the past has led many to be skeptical of the country’s enforcement of the JCPOA currently. So far, however, Iran has adhered to the JCPOA Roadmap. In accordance with the Roadmap, Iran provided the IAEA with information to clarify past and present outstanding issues related to its nuclear program. The IAEA confirmed that Iran has completed all activities related to resolving those issues. Before the implementation of the JCPOA, the UN nuclear agency closed the case of the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Tehran’s nuclear program. After the implementation, IAEA found that Iran was non-compliant with certain obligations, particularly its heavy-water obligations, but, after being notified, Iran quickly rectified the problem. This is an example of Iran’s efforts to enforce the JCPOA. However, Iran has stirred the pot once again with its aggression in Yemen.

Although the relations between Iran and Yemen have been cordial since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in recent years, their relations have taken hits due to Iran’s alleged support for Zaydi Shi’ite Houthi rebels engaged in armed conflict with Yemeni government forces. In addition to this, Yemen has also accused Iran of providing funding and weapons to the Houthi rebels. On the 2nd of October 2015, Yemen had severed diplomatic relations with Iran due to alleged Iranian support of Houthis to overthrow Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. There is a long road ahead for the international community’s relations with Iran. The Security Council must decide on actions to take to resolve the divisive issues surrounding Iran.