The Security Council convened on January 18th to discuss the progress of the implementation of the JCPoA, commonly know as the Iran Nuclear Deal, and UNSC resolution 2231, which expressed support for the deal. It was an important day for many delegations, and especially for Ambassador Samantha Power, the United States Representative, who received many accolades from her colleagues on her last day in the Security Council. Sebastiano Cardi, the Italian representative, was meanwhile repeatedly congratulated for his appointment as facilitator of the mechanism of resolution 2231.
Cardi, in his first speech to the council, simply gave a briefing on the two reports outlining the progress of fully implementing the JCPoA since its creation a year ago. In his second statement, he showed optimism and support for the progress and direction of the JCPOA, saying, “Italy has considered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) a proof of how diplomacy can effectively lead to a solution of nuclear nonproliferation issues.” He then argued that full implementation will only “enhance the non-proliferation architecture.” Cardi pledged Italy’s full support in continuing to work towards a final solution to the issue, and commended everyone involved for their effective, yet difficult work. He finished by urging the entire international community to play their respective roles in ensuring that “the JCPoA yields benefits for all and remains a success story in the global effort against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
Ambassador Power then spoke for the last time on the Security Council as United States Permanent Representative. She thanked all of her diplomatic colleagues, the interpreters, and the people at the US Mission who all work tirelessly so that the UN can function properly to make the change that the world deserves to see. Power called the JCPoA an amazing accomplishment of international diplomacy, and explained that while diplomacy may not be enough in every situation, “there is never a time where it is not needed.” She finished her statement with an analogy: remember the lights on bicycle tired that only light up once the rider begins pedaling? She called on all member states and the entire international community to “pedal hard” to light those up and towards a better future.
For months now, Russia and the United States have been toeing up on important issues, and even though it was the last chance for a showdown between Power and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, he did not even show up to the meeting. So in his place the deputy Russian Ambassador spoke, but Power seemed barely to notice as she was busy chatting away with the UK Representative, and even removed her headset to be able to talk and laugh better.
It is an interesting coincidence that Power’s last day at the Security Council was also the day of the confirmation hearing for Nikki Haley, the US’s next Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In this hearing Haley questioned the UN’s efficacy and asked, “Are we getting what we paid for?” She said that she would not shy away from defunding the UN for taking stances that are against those of the US, and also criticized the body for its treatment of Israel.
The issue of Iran’s nuclear program has been a very important one for the presidency of Barack Obama, and many across the world consider the JCPoA a great success. Israel, who is not among its supporters, has repeatedly criticized the deal. However, with Trump’s, and now Haley’s, strong pro-Israel stance, the deal that has greatly dismantled a large portion of Iran’s nuclear architecture may be in jeopardy. On the eve of Trump’s inauguration, perhaps all that can be done is waiting to see.