Which amendments proposed by South Africa with regard to measures against Iran in connection with its development of nuclear technologies





 Ms P de Lille (ID) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:   

  • Which amendments proposed by South Africa with regard to measures against Iran in connection with its development of nuclear technologies have been (a) accepted and (b) rejected by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC);
  • Why, in respect of the amendments proposed by South Africa that were not accepted by the other parties, did South Africa support the UNSC Resolution 1747 of 2007;
  • Whether Iran had to comply with certain criteria in order to be granted permission to develop nuclear technologies; if so, what criteria;
  • Whether the said criteria apply to all countries, including South Africa; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


1 a) The following provisions in United Nations Security Council resolution 1747 (2007) on Iran were brought about due to South African interventions:

  • The resolution was amended to provide for the termination of the sanctions upon receipt of a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has complied with the requirements of the IAEA and the Security Council.
  • New language was included to at least partially accommodate South Africa’s concern that the Security Council should respect the IAEA’s role as the “sole internationally recognised body dealing with verification and monitoring issues” (position of the Non-Aligned Movement).
  • The negotiating offer put forward by the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany was attached as an annex to the resolution, signalling that their path to negotiations was available and that the sanctions can be reversed.
  • South Africa ’s call for the inclusion of the full text of the IAEA’s report in the resolution was partially accommodated through the inclusion of the reference number for this document. South Africa wanted the international community to be in a position to view the entire report, with both its positive and negative findings on Iran, rather than just extracts from the document.
  • Confusion over whether provisions in the resolution were binding or non-binding was substantially mitigated. The resolution now makes it clear that UN Member States may volunteer to report to the Security Council on measures taken to implement the non-binding provisions, but they are not obliged to do so.

1 b) The Security Council did not agree to South Africa’s proposal that the sanctions should be directed towards Iran’s nuclear programme and instead adopted a much broader sanctions regime that targets the Iranian government. The Security Council also did not agree to South Africa’s suggestion that it should endorse the IAEA Director General’s proposal for a “time out” to allow for further negotiations.

  • South Africa decided to vote in favour of the resolution partly because of its consistent position that Iran should comply with its commitments to the IAEA, take confidence-building measures to allay the concerns of the international community regarding the purpose of its nuclear programme and resolve outstanding issues related to that programme. South Africa normally works for consensus decisions where possible in multilateral fora and South Africa was chair of the Security Council when the decision was adopted.
  • No. Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes the “inalienable right” of States to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In this regard, Article IV states that “nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.”

Equally important, under Article III of the Treaty each Non-Nuclear-Weapon State Party to the Treaty “undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency's safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfilment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Article III(3) of the NPT states clearly that “the safeguards required by this Article shall be implemented in a manner designed to comply with Article IV of this Treaty, and to avoid hampering the economic or technological development of the Parties or international co-operation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities, including the international exchange of nuclear material and equipment for the processing, use or production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of this Article and the principle of safeguarding set forth in the Preamble of the Treaty.”

The NPT therefore provides a comprehensive set of inter-linked and mutually-reinforcing rights and obligations to which the Parties to the Treaty have committed to under the three pillars of the Treaty, namely nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

4) These rights and obligations are equally binding on all Parties to the Treaty. However, there seems to be an increasing tendency by some Parties to the NPT to focus exclusively on the non-proliferation provisions to the detriment of the nuclear disarmament obligations as contained in Article VI of the Treaty and the provisions pertaining to the peaceful application of nuclear energy. South Africa has therefore continued to call for the balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Treaty and, together with its partners in the New Agenda Coalition ( Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa) expressed its deep concern over the lack of real progress towards nuclear disarmament and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

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