News / Middle East

Iran Defends Post as Chair of UN Disarmament Conference

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi before addressing U.N. disarmament conference, Geneva, Feb. 28, 2012.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi before addressing U.N. disarmament conference, Geneva, Feb. 28, 2012.
Reuters
Iran on Tuesday defended its election as the rotating chair of the world's sole multilateral disarmament forum after the United States announced that its ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament would boycott any meeting led by Tehran.
 
The U.N. Conference on Disarmament has been deadlocked for about 15 years. While the chairmanship of the Geneva-based body is largely ceremonial, it is a high-profile position.
 
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is a founding member of the United Nations," said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission.
 
"Its election to the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, as the most important disarmament negotiating body of the U.N., is its right in accordance with the established practice and rules of procedure of this organ," he said.
 
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said on Monday that the selection of Iran was "unfortunate and highly inappropriate." She said countries under U.N. sanctions for arms proliferation or human rights abuses should be barred from such formal or ceremonial U.N. posts.
 
Iran is under sanctions by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and other international bodies for refusing to halt a nuclear enrichment program that Tehran says is peaceful but Western nations and their allies suspect is aimed at giving it the capability to produce atomic weapons.
 
The United States and Europe have also accused Iran of violating a U.N. embargo on Iranian arms exports in order to supply weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They say Tehran is supporting Assad's efforts to defeat rebels seeking to overthrow him in the country's two-year civil war.
 
Pelton said the U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Laura Kennedy, would boycott any meeting chaired by Iran. Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980 after Iranian students took U.S. diplomats hostage in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution.
 
Rick Roth, spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry, also condemned Iran's election to the disarmament conference.
 
"This makes a mockery of disarmament issues, and the world's sincere desire to make progress," he said. "In Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, the regime is working directly against global disarmament goals and subverting the fundamental principles of this committee."
 
Miryousefi denied that Iran was in violation of any of its treaty obligations.
 
"Iran is a State Party to and in full compliance with all major treaties prohibiting the weapons of mass destruction negotiated within this body," he said.
 
Those treaties include the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention, he said.
 
"During its presidency, the Islamic Republic of Iran would focus on promoting the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament through according the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear arsenals of the nuclear-weapon States in an irreversible, transparent and internationally verifiable manner," Miryousefi said.
 
Iran will chair the conference for four weeks beginning on May 27. The 65-nation Conference on Disarmament, created in 1978, negotiated biological and chemical weapons conventions but has been unable to carry out substantive work since 1998 because members could not agree on priorities.
 
A key task proposed for the panel has been to negotiate a halt to production of nuclear bomb-making fissile material. That step has been blocked by Pakistan, which says it would put it at a permanent disadvantage to rival India.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly urged the disarmament conference to overcome its deadlock.
 
Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group that monitors the work of the United Nations, said in a statement on Monday that the selection of Iran as the conference chair "is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter."

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid