Ambassador Rice: As you know the Security Council today held consultations to discuss the Cote d’Ivoire sanctions regime. The purpose of the consultations today was to consider the impact of UN sanctions on Cote d’Ivoire prior to the Security Council’s adoption of a renewal of the measures next week.
Current UN sanctions on Cote d’Ivoire include an arms embargo, a ban on diamond exports, and targeted sanctions on a number of individuals, including Laurent Gbagbo and a number of his closest associates. The Security Council heard a briefing from Ambassador Rosenthal of Guatemala, who is the current chair of the sanctions committee, about the committee’s activities, including its consideration of the Panel of Expert’s report – Group of Experts, I think, excuse me. The members of the Security Council were very much supportive of the significant progress that’s been made in Cote d’Ivoire over the last year under President Ouattara’s leadership.
The members of the Council also noted, however, that challenges remain, including violations of the arms embargo and diamond smuggling. Council members agreed that sanctions can continue to play a role in supporting Cote d’Ivoire’s post-conflict recovery. Several Council members expressed a desire to begin to scale back these measures over time, as the security situation improves.
I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: Madame president, it would appear that Russia’s stopped shipping arms to Syria. Your reaction to this? And do you think it represents a significant shift in the position of Russia?
Ambassador Rice: I can’t comment really because I’ve only seen a press report. That press report has not been confirmed, and indeed the source of it was unclear in the report itself.
Reporter: Madame ambassador, also on Syria, could you tell us whether you have received yet a report or a letter from the Secretary-General on his assessment of implementation of last week’s resolution and what you see in terms of a timetable for what else the Council is going to be considering on Syria for the rest of the week?
Ambassador Rice: Ok. No, we have not yet received that report, Edie, or letter – I think it will come in the form of a letter. We expect that to come late today, and the Council will meet tomorrow morning, early. We have two things now for tomorrow morning. We will start at 9 o’clock and discuss the report or the letter with Deputy Joint Special Envoy Guehenno and Edmund Mulet on behalf of DPKO, and at 11 o’clock, we will proceed with the previously planned session on nuclear security and non-proliferation. So that’s what is planned for this week. We hope next week it will be possible for the Council to hear from Joint Special Envoy Annan directly, including on his assessment of the situation on the ground. And in light of these discussions and assessments, the Council, I’m sure, will work towards its consideration of the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report.
Reporter: Madame President, good morning. In your capacity as ambassador to the United Nations of the United States, can you comment on the haggling that’s going on concerning the monitoring? I understand you haven’t received the final report from —
Ambassador Rice: Haggling?
Reporter: Yes, I mean, there are many statements coming out of Damascus that the monitors are not in place, and Syria will provide the planes if needed. These are statements by the foreign minister in China. Ban Ki-moon has made it very clear during his trip that it’s desirable — and he wants the Security Council — to authorize the use of helicopters for logistic reasons — not to rely on the Syrians — and the range of their coverage within the country. And also he made many statements concerning the 250, that they’re not enough. Why isn’t the Security Council looking into the numbers that will secure the success of the ceasefire and thus enable the Six-Point Plan to succeed if the Secretary General is already telling us 250 are not enough?
Ambassador Rice: Okay, Talal, there’s a lot in that question. We haven’t seen the Secretary-General’s letter or his recommendations, so you’re asking me to comment on something that doesn’t exist yet, at least for Council members to assess. From the U.S. point of view, let me say several things. First of all, we think that any UN Mission, including any UN Mission in Syria, needs to be able to operate with the independence, the freedom of movement, the freedom of communications — all of the traditional freedoms that are necessary for an effective and neutral UN presence anywhere in the world. And we can’t accept a set of circumstances in Syria that we wouldn’t accept anywhere else or that violates 65 plus years of UN best practice and principle.
So, when we receive the report and when we get an assessment from Joint Special Envoy Annan and others about the situation on the ground — and obviously that’s a moving target and we’ll have to assess it over time — we’ll be able to determine whether the conditions that the Council said must be in place are in fact in place. The Council was clear. There needs to be a sustained cessation of violence. There has to be the ability for this advance contingent to be able to operate and move freely and unimpeded. And I think there’s reason on both counts to be concerned that, thus far, those conditions are not in place.
Reporter: So what you’re saying — ultimately, on the record, 250 will not be enough yet he’s going to recommend 250 because the Syrians want a small monitoring mission. Is it within, I mean is it open to logic that you authorize a Security Council mission that is not going to sustain a real ceasefire to enable the monitors to be sent?
Ambassador Rice: Let’s be clear: these monitors are not, themselves — whether they are 30, 250, or 2000 — going to sustain the ceasefire. These are Chapter 6, unarmed observers, who will only, no matter what their numbers, be able to observe and report on what is going on on the ground. That is why we’ve been so clear — the Secretary-General’s been so clear — that the onus for implementing the cessation lies with the government and, of course, in reciprocity, with the opposition. So, the burden is on them.
We want to see the numbers that the SG puts in his letter. We have a very small number of observers now on the ground, and it seems that small number is having difficulty operating with the freedom that we all expected and that is required. So I think it’s wise not to leap to any conclusions about whether the circumstances are going to be appropriate for the deployment of any subsequent tranche, whether 250 or larger. I certainly look to the Secretary-General to give us his best judgment about what is needed to do the mission, and my understanding is that the number 250 was at least a product of the Secretariat’s initial thinking. If it’s a political calculation that the Secretary-General is already calling into question, then I would anticipate that his report would give us some indication that this is a second tranche, rather than, necessarily, the final proposed tranche.
Reporter: Ambassador, yesterday the North Koreans announced that they’re going to — they no longer consider themselves bound by the February agreement with the U.S. They’ve rescinded their invitation to the IAEA to come there. What are your concerns, from a national perspective and in terms of implications for the Security Council of the way North Korea seems to be moving forward?
Ambassador Rice: From the U.S. point of view, the leap day agreement was clear that any missile launches would be a violation of that agreement. They went ahead and launched the missiles, and so we made clear that there will be no food aid and that, from a practical point of view, that agreement is not operational since they went ahead and violated it and announced that they intended to violate it really a few weeks after it was signed.
So, you know, I think that the statement yesterday by the North Koreans is in the vein of many statements that we’ve heard in the past. I think the important thing for North Koreans to understand is that the Council issued a very strong and united determination that if there should be further acts, whether missile launches or nuclear tests, that the Council stands ready to take further action. And one would hope, against past precedent, that the leadership in North Korea will see the wisdom of not pursuing further provocations and will recognize that the history of their pursuit of these further provocations is North Korea’s increasing isolation and increasing pressure from the international community.