19 December 2011
Statement by H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
on ”The Situation in Afghanistan”
before the Security Council of the United Nations
(19 December 2011, New York)
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
At the outset, I congratulate you, on assuming the presidency of the Council this month. I also wish to thank the Secretary-General for his report on the situation in Afghanistan (S/2011/772) and extend my warm greetings to our good colleague Mr. de Mistura, whose mission in Afghanistan will come to its end in the near future. Mr. de Mistura’s dedication to strengthening peace and stability in Afghanistan is praiseworthy. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Jan Kubis for his appointment as the new Special Representative and Head of UNAMA and wish him all success in his new assignment.
The oral report of Mr. de Mistura and then Mr. Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister and other statements presented today touched key points regarding the situation in Afghanistan and the mandate of UNAMA and the prospects of International engagement after the International Conference on Afghanistan held recently in Bonn. I therefore wish to take a few minutes to touch upon succinctly some important developments in Afghanistan from our perspective.
We have always warned about the negative consequences of the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan and the concerns that the neighboring countries of Afghanistan have about the real intentions behind such presence. I want here to refer to the case of the drone which took off from a US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan and violated Iran’s airspace. This American unmanned spy plane dubbed as the “beast of Kandahar” (drone, RQ-170) after flying 250 Kilometers deep into Iranian territory up to a region near the city of Tabas was brought down by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This act of blatant military air aggression was unprovoked and in contravention of all universally accepted existing international norms relating to sovereignty and inviolability of airspace of sovereign countries. I wonder this type of airplane which appears to be only in the possession of U.S. military intelligence and is used mainly to collect intelligence for spying purposes why should it cross into the Iranian airspace in violation of established international law? It goes without saying that violating the Iranian territorial air space contravenes the basic purpose of the United Nations, i.e. to maintain international peace and security and to develop friendly relations among nations. Of course this is not the first time that such malicious incident happens, but I hope it would be the last time. I have already expressed our strong objection by sending a letter to Secretary General and the President and members of the Security Council. The various aspects of this issue is under consideration by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In another drone like operation organized and led by the U.S. Military bases in Afghanistan, I would like to refer to a quiet recent case where a well-trained and equipped American National spy agent and a member of U.S. military intelligence forces was identified while leaving the Bagram U.S. base in Afghanistan and entered Iran. This person was on a covert operation. His malicious mission was fortunately disrupted by our intelligence. These are clear examples that the U.S. uses its bases in Afghanistan for spying purposes as well.
In analyzing the situation on the ground and the discussion on longer-term international engagement in Afghanistan, the concerns of the neighboring countries should be seriously taken into account. The same concern has been expressed by neighboring Pakistan officials on the high number of civilian casualties over the drone operation in Pakistan northern areas.
It is because of those concerns that we are of the strong belief that the long-term international engagement should not lead to long term presence and the establishment of permanent military bases or military presence in Afghanistan. We all know that foreign forces entered Afghanistan in the name of countering terrorism and establishing peace and security. A decade has passed. According to many official reports there has been an increase in the degree of insecurity. Therefore, the longer presence of foreign military forces in whatever form and under whatever justifications, would not only bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, rather it would provide a breeding ground for the terrorists and extremist groups to further continue their operations.
The other issue is the continuation and increase in the cultivation of narcotic drugs, which is still the most serious challenges not only for Afghanistan, but those en route of drug trafficking and the countries of destination. This menace has hindered the advancement of the country towards development and has put at risk the social cohesion of Afghanistan along with its neighbors. Moreover, narcotic drugs, as the financial source of terrorism in Afghanistan, has worked as another breeding ground for terrorists, extremists and illegal groups who attempt to destabilize the Afghan Government. On 28 November Iran’s Minister of Interior took part in the Counter-narcotic ministerial meeting held in Kabul. Since its launch in 2007, the Initiative, has promoted information exchange and intelligence-led operations targeting the major transnational networks, while building confidence. The drug control operations coordinated by the joint planning within this framework have resulted in the seizures of several tons of illicit drugs and the arrest of many drug traffickers.
Yet one another issue is the long-standing problem of Afghan refugees. We look forward to the planned international conference in the spring of 2012 to be held with the participation of Iran, Afghanistan and aimed at exploring a comprehensive long term strategy in resolving the issue of refuges. We hope that this conference would lead us to concrete and substantive outcomes that can offer real solutions. We have hosted on average 3 million Afghan nationals over the past three decades. At present, more than 1 million Afghan refugees are registered in Iran, while a greater number of unregistered Afghans are also living in our country. For all these years, Afghan nationals have continued to enjoy Iran’s educational and welfare facilities among others and to benefit from the same subsidies that Iranian nationals receive. We urge again the international community, to continue to strengthen and expedite its efforts in creating the conditions conducive for the sustainable repatriation of refugees and their full rehabilitation and reintegration in their homeland.
On regional cooperation we have continued our talks with Afghan authorities on bilateral, trilateral and regional basis to further strengthen our cooperation, particularly in relation to increasing our coordination on security matters, counter-narcotics efforts, illegal immigration and completion of developmental projects including building roads and railways and we have been able to score a good record. For example, on the railroad, we will soon witness the completion of railway network in the region which will connect the land locked Central Asian countries and Afghanistan to the Persian Gulf through rail. By integrating Afghanistan to railway system in Central Asia, Afghan economic integration in the region would be eased up to a great degree.
In the trilateral summit meeting held in Tehran in June this year, the presidents of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan agreed to join forces in combating militancy and all sides stressed their commitment to efforts aimed at eliminating extremism, militancy and terrorism. In this respect a number of projects have already been finished and some new agreements were reached and we look forward to more agreements on bilateral, trilateral and multilateral basis. We are now in preparation phase of an upcoming trilateral summit between the Head of States of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in Islamabad. The Deputy Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the three countries met in Tehran on 16 October 2011 and we hope the improvement in political atmosphere would permit the continuation of this initiative.
Earlier this month we had the Bonn Conference. The Conference was an opportunity where the neighboring countries as well as international partners exchanged views on how to move further on creating a stable and prosperous Afghan lead process. We hope that the outcome of Bonn Conference would help to develop measures aimed at addressing common challenges on political and security issues and lead to concrete steps to eliminate extremism, militancy, terrorism and pave the ground for a more economic prosperity for Afghanistan with the active participation of all the neighboring and regional countries in the infrastructural and developmental projects in line with the wishes of Afghan people and Government. Any initiatives elaborated in Bonn conference should strengthen the trust between Afghanistan and its neighbors through active engagement, interactions and partnership. The neighboring countries of Afghanistan share critical interests in Afghanistan’s security and long-term stability and play their role in promoting Afghanistan’s socio-economic development. Obviously the prospects of a stable and flourishing Afghanistan would be ideal situation to its neighbors and the wider region. The continuing engagement between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in the areas of trade, economic development and infrastructure development must be therefore supported. Here we should also emphasis on the central role of the United Nations in coordinating international efforts in Afghanistan which is of paramount importance and enjoys our full support.
I thank you Mr. President, wish you and all colleagues happy holidays and happy and prosperous New Year.