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 UN Conference on Disarmament would boycott any meeting led by Tehran.
The UN 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 UN mission.
"Its election to the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, as the most important disarmament negotiating body of the UN, is its right in accordance with the established practice and rules of procedure of this organ," he said.
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the United Nations, said on Monday that the selection of Iran was "unfortunate and highly inappropriate." She said countries under UN sanctions for arms proliferation or human rights abuses should be barred from such formal or ceremonial UN posts.