Volume. 11958

Iran seeks to untangle UN sanctions: article
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c_330_235_16777215_0_http___172.19.100.100_images_stories_famous_02_am32.jpgTEHRAN – Iran has added to its nuclear negotiating team a law professor, who has extensive experience making Iran’s case in international disputes, in a bid to achieve a comprehensive nuclear deal with world powers, according to an article published by the Washington Institute on Thursday.
Following are excerpts of the article written by Steven Ditto:
On April 9, Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany) concluded the latest two-day round of talks on a nuclear deal, setting the next round for May 13. 
Earlier in the week, on April 7, Iranian media reported the appointment of Dr. Jamshid Momtaz as head of a “legal advisory group” to the Iranian negotiating team. 
A French-educated expert on sanctions, disarmament, and UN procedure, Momtaz has represented the Iranian government in some of its highest-profile international legal proceedings,… Momtaz’s familiarity with the United Nations, his extensive practice in Europe, and his proven history of leveraging complex legal arguments to advance Iran’s international interests indicate that in these latest rounds of P5+1 talks Tehran is likely looking for unconventional ways to “address” and “bring a satisfactory conclusion to” the UN Security Council resolutions against it, as called for in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) agreed to in Geneva last November.
… Momtaz appears to be the consummate professional. He has authored more than thirty books and academic articles; his father and grandfather both served in the pre-1979 Iranian foreign service; and he was raised in Turkey and Egypt, and educated in Paris. 
In 2005, Momtaz was appointed chair of the UN International Law Commission -- an elected body on which he had served since 2000 and that is subordinate to the General Assembly -- and charged with deliberating on and codifying complex cases of international law. 
Most recently, he has been a professor at the University of Tehran, and he is a thirty-year advisor to Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Momtaz litigated Iranian … (cases) at the ICJ concerning the territorial dispute over Abu Musa island; the 1988 … downing of Iran Air flight 655; and reparations from the Iran-Iraq War, including the U.S. use of force against Iranian oil platforms.
Perhaps most interestingly, Momtaz served as a legal advisor to current foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the 1990s, when the latter submitted an oral statement concerning the Iranian government’s legal opinion on the “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” a case being heard by the ICJ at the UN General Assembly’s request.
The roots of the current round of P5+1 negotiations go back to September 2005, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors voted -- with a majority twenty-seven out of thirty-five countries -- to refer Iran’s nuclear file to the Security Council, based on Article 12, Subsection C, of the IAEA statute concerning noncompliance. Earlier that year, nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani had warned that Iran would oppose such a measure and also consider it contrary to international law. 
“So far as international law is concerned, there is no way to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council,” Rouhani exhorted in March 2005. “If they want to send the dossier to the Security Council, they would be doing something totally illegal, purely political, and irrational.”
According to Iranian legal experts’ interpretation, the IAEA statute only allows UN referrals in clear cases of nuclear diversion, or when a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is accused of “fault or negligence.” The Iranians argued, in their defense, that longstanding questions about contamination of nuclear equipment by high-enriched uranium, as well as secret procurement networks for P1 and P2 centrifuges, had been satisfactorily resolved by the IAEA, making the Security Council referral illegitimate under international law.
In November 2013, following the adoption of the JPOA, Zarif echoed Rouhani’s earlier sentiments and characterized the Security Council sanctions as “illegal, unreasonable, and cruel.” He noted further that “we have always said that referring Iran’s dossier to the Security Council was illegal.” Seeking to implicate the United States, he noted it was “a political move masked under a legal basis.”
Assuming Momtaz and the newly appointed legal advisory team share these longstanding claims about the Security Council resolutions’ illegitimacy, questions will naturally arise regarding the team’s approach to satisfying the JPOA’s requirement for Iran to, “among other things, [address] the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council’s consideration of this matter.”
The optimistic view about Momtaz’s appointment to the negotiating team is that the Iranians are beefing up their expertise for a final nuclear agreement on the horizon. The pessimistic view is that Iran could be reinforcing a tough stand focused on legalisms and international legal arguments. The truth likely lies somewhere in between.

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