Statement by Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN
Thank you, Madame President.
Let me begin by thanking you for your able stewardship of the Security Council this month - and for holding this very important debate.
For the people of Israel, this is not an abstract discussion. Day after day, trafficked arms explode in our cities. Day after day, our citizens live with the threat of growing terrorist networks - and the states that support them.
It was just over one year ago that a ship named the Victoria
set sail on the Mediterranean from the Port of Latakia in Syria. From the outside, it looked like an ordinary cargo vessel - but the Victoria was being used for a mission very different than any job given to the Post Office or Federal Express.
Among a cargo of lentils and cotton, three containers were concealed in the Victoria's hull. They held 40 tons of Iranian weaponry. Not just guns and TNT - but sophisticated missiles and other weapons normally held only by modern militaries. Intelligence showed that Iran intended to transfer these weapons to terrorists in Gaza.
Fortunately, Israeli forces intercepted the Victoria before its cargoes could reach their intended destination. Yet, the weapons containers on the Victoria held an important reminder for this Council. Iran - and its ally the Assad regime - have absolutely zero regard for the basic norms and laws of the international community. They systematically violate Security Council resolution 1860 and many others, transferring sophisticated weapons to terrorists in Gaza, in Lebanon - and well beyond.
The consequences of their illegal smuggling activity can be measured in the blood of many innocent civilians - and the spread of instability throughout our region. Each Iranian rocket is armed with a warhead that could cause a political earthquake well beyond Israel's borders.
In his report to the Council last November, the Secretary-General noted that Hezbollah - a terrorist organization inside the Lebanese state - has reached "almost the capacities of a regular army." Hezbollah carries Iranian arms, is trained by Iranian forces, is funded by Iranian petro-dollars, and acts as a proxy force for the Iranian regime - from the hills of South Lebanon to the streets of Bangkok.
It is time for this Council to hold accountable those UN Member States that arm, train and fund terrorists. The international community's failure to act today will only initiate a bigger nightmare tomorrow.
The issue of illicit trafficking - and the infrastructure that supports it - is not only an Israeli problem, or a Middle Eastern problem or an African problem. It is a global problem.
Illicit smuggling is made possible by an increasingly linked network of smuggling rings, transnational criminals, and terrorists. These groups are working together around the world like never before. Terrorists understand that if you can smuggle narcotics into a European capital, you can do the same with an anti-aircraft missile. They understand that lawless environments are fertile ground for radicalization. They recognize that selling drugs can pay for bombs.
Hezbollah's activities offer a disturbing example of this trend. This terrorist organization has established itself as a major player in the global narcotics market, operating a network that spans from West Africa to the Middle East to Latin America. Hezbollah uses this global network to fund its terrorist activities, and to provide the logistical support to carry them out.
The Hezbollah network shows how a gap in one nation's counter-terrorism capabilities is a weak link that can be exploited, with potentially devastating consequences for the rest of the world. It is clear that instability in one country can mean catastrophe in another.
Israel continues to share its unique expertise with others in the global fight against these networks. We are closely engaged in counter-terrorism capacity building initiatives with a number of States and regional organizations in Africa, South America, and Asia. These collaborative efforts span a range of issues - from terrorist financing to aviation security; from money laundering to border protection.
Among all the issues related to illicit trafficking, there is no greater threat than the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
I earlier described Iran's behavior without nuclear weapons. We can only imagine how this regime would behave with nuclear weapons - and who they would share them with.
The proliferation of WMD's is also great cause for concern in Syria, where instability threatens to give terrorist groups like Hezbollah the keys to the Assad regime's stockpile of weapons. This includes long-range missiles as well as biological and chemical weapons. As the regime of our region's most dangerous ophthalmologist stands on the brink of collapse, the international community must keep an eye - a very close eye - on his collection of very dangerous weapons.
While the Victoria remains held at port, other smuggling ships are steaming across the high seas with cargoes full of rockets and explosives. One of those rockets could spark the next major conflict. One of those weapons could be used in the next mass casualty terror attack. One of those bombs could be a nuclear bomb.
We cannot allow those who sent the Victoria to be victorious. Preventing these weapons from reaching their destination is our collective obligation. Terrorists and their backers depend on divisions in the international community to keep their operations afloat. No nation is free from responsibility. And no nation can escape the consequences of inaction.
Thank you very much, Madame President.