Like the presence of Soviet tanks in the streets of Kabul, the Soviet veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran exposes, for all the people of the world to see, the Soviet Union's disregard for international law and the world's machinery of peace.
Their veto is an act of political cynicism. It offends the conscience of all who honor freedom and who seek to strengthen the grip of law over lawlessness, of peace over strife—in this crisis and for the future.
The facts are clear. On December 31, the Security Council adopted a binding resolution on Iran. That resolution, as had a prior resolution which the Soviet Union approved, called on Iran to release the hostages. It requested that Secretary-General Waldheim continue to use his good offices to secure their release. It committed the Security Council to review the situation again on January 7 and, if the Iranians had not yet complied, to adopt effective measures under Articles 39 and 41 of the United Nations Charter. These are the Articles of the United Nations Charter that provide for mandatory sanctions.
The Secretary-General then went to Tehran. He reported to the Council on January 7 that the progress he sought had not been made; that the Iranians refused to release the hostages. It therefore became incumbent on the Security Council to act.
Twice the United States, despite extreme skepticism, agreed to a delay of this action so that any indication of a good faith effort to resolve this crisis could be explored. As has so often been the case in the past, those explorations proved fruitless.
The necessary majority of the members of the United Nations Security Council voted to impose specific sanctions on Iran in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and the previous decision of the Council. The 'Soviet Union has thwarted that effort with their veto.
Let us be clear about what the Soviet Union is saying to the world by its two vetoes in the past week and by its other actions: The Soviet Union has opposed this effort of the international community, including the United States, to resolve the crisis in Iran through peaceful means. Meanwhile, it is seeking to crush the independence of Afghanistan through military force.
The Soviet Union can veto the Security Council's resolution on Afghanistan—but they cannot veto the imprint their aggression has left on world opinion.
The Soviet Union can keep the Security Council from acting now on Iran-but they cannot block the determination of members of the international community that terrorism and lawlessness must be dealt with firmly.
Over the next several days, we will be working with other nations who uphold the principles of the United Nations and who seek a peaceful end to the crisis in Iran, to carry out our obligations under the Security Council resolution of December 31 and to implement the sanctions. At the President's direction, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher is now in Europe to discuss our actions with our European allies. We will also be in immediate contact with other nations.
The terrorists holding the American hostages cannot take comfort from this veto, because in reality it is aimed at advancing Soviet designs in Iran. The veto does nothing to lessen the world community's condemnation of their acts, nor does it lessen Iran's isolation from the world. In spite of the veto, we are confident that nations will act to maintain the rule of law.