Iran gets senior seat on UN nuclear disarmament committee

Israeli officials, Jewish groups assail decision; duties to include relaying disarmament information and reports.

October 3, 2013 00:52
2 minute read.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the UN General Assembly, Septemeber 24, 2013.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)


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NEW YORK – Hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu railed against Iran’s nuclear program from the UN General Assembly’s stage on Tuesday, member states elected Iran to be the rapporteur for the Disarmament and International Security Committee.

Iran’s representative will replace Norwegian diplomat Knut Langeland. The position’s duties include relaying information and reports on disarmament and armament activities between the committee and the General Assembly.

The First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, which is comprised of all 193 member states, “considers all disarmament and international security matters” and “seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime.”

One of its main functions is to draft resolutions that are later debated by the General Assembly; the committee has no power to pass resolutions.

Iran applied for the position on July 30. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said then that if Iran were to assume such a post, it would be like “inviting Assad, the Syrian dictator responsible for the death of 100,000 of his own people, to be the head of the population census bureau.”

On Wednesday, the American Jewish Committee condemned the UN’s decision, saying it was “appalled” at the election.

“Rewarding Iran for misbehavior is a tragic stain on the UN,” AJC executive director David Harris said. “Nonetheless, this should not in any way deter world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US – from standing firm in current negotiations to ensure that Iran comes clean on its nuclear program.”

The Anti-Defamation League expressed similar feelings of astonishment. ADL's executive directory Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement that this was "the height of hypocrisy," and "simply unbelievable."

"Iran’s election to be the face of the First Committee in the General Assembly only serves to further undermine the UN’s credibility," Foxman said.

Iranian media hailed the decision.

The Islamic Republic News Agency called Netanyahu’s speech “baseless” and the Iranian response to it “powerful and well-reasoned,” and emphasized that Tehran was ready for “a sincere participation” in nuclear negotiations.

Iran is head of the Non- Aligned Movement for the period 2012 to 2015.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday, as the head of NAM, after first addressing it in his role as president the previous Monday.

In his address last Monday, Rouhani called for a Middle East that was free of weapons of mass destruction, and reiterated that Iran rejects the development, possession, or use of nuclear weapons.

Without mentioning it by name, he slammed Israel as being the only country in the region to possess weapons of mass destruction, and for not acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a document Iran has signed, though it was found to be in noncompliance.

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