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International Economic Sanctions Against Iran Remarks Announcing Intention To Seek United Nations Action.

December 21, 1979

THE PRESIDENT. From the first day the American Embassy was invaded and our diplomatic staff was seized as hostages by Iran, we have pursued every. legal channel available to us to secure their safe and prompt release. On at least four separate occasions the world community, through the United Nations Security Council and through the International Court of Justice, has expressed itself clearly and firmly in calling upon the Iranian Government to release the American hostages.

Yet Iran today still stands in arrogant defiance of the world community. It has shown contempt not only for international law but for the entire international structure for securing the peaceful resolution of differences among nations.

In an irresponsible attempt at blackmail, to which the United States will never yield, kidnappers and terrorists, supported by Iranian officials, continue to hold our people under inhumane conditions. With each day that passes, our concern grows for the health and for the well-being of the hostages. We have made clear from the very beginning that the United States prefers a peaceful solution, in preference to the other remedies which are available to us under international law. For a peaceful resolution to be achieved, it is now clear that concrete action must be taken by the international community.

Accordingly, I have decided to ask for an early meeting of the United Nations Security Council to impose international economic sanctions upon Iran, under title VII of the United Nations Charter. The Government of Iran must realize that it cannot flaunt with impunity the expressed will and law of the world community. The Security Council must act to enforce its demand that Iran release the hostages. The world community must support the legal machinery it has established, so that the United Nations and the International Court of Justice will continue to be relevant in settling serious disputes which threaten peace among nations.

I can think of no more clear and compelling challenge to the international community than the one we face today. The lives of over '50 innocent people are at stake; the foundation of civilized diplomacy is at stake; the integrity of international law is at stake; the credibility of the United Nations is at stake. And at stake, ultimately, is the maintenance of peace in the region. As we call on the Security Council to act, on behalf of international law and on behalf of peace, we again call on the Government of Iran to end this crisis by releasing the hostages without delay.

And now, because our holy days approach—a time to think of peace—I would like to add a few special words for the American people, indeed the people of good will in all countries, including Iran, who share concern for 50 innocent human beings who hope, themselves, for peace and for the salvation of their lives.

Henry Longfellow wrote a Christmas carol in a time of crisis, the War Between the States, in 1864. Two verses of that carol particularly express my thoughts and prayers and, I'm sure, those of our Nation in this time of challenge and of concern and of crisis. And I would like to quote from that poem:

"And in despair I bowed my head.
'There is no peace on earth,' I said.
'For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.'
Then pealed the bells, more loud deep,
'God is not dead, nor does he sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.'"
Thank you very much.

REPORTER. Mr. President, do you have any hope of observers getting to see the hostages on Christmas Day?

THE PRESIDENT. We don't know what the answer to that question is. We always hope, but we don't expect it to happen.

Q. Sir, do we have the votes in the Security Council?

THE PRESIDENT. We'll have to answer that question later.

Note: The President spoke at 4:01 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, International Economic Sanctions Against Iran Remarks Announcing Intention To Seek United Nations Action. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248433

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