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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid