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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora