The international community must act against Iran and prevent it from becoming a nuclear threshold state for the sake of Ukraine, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan told the General Assembly on Wednesday.
“Ukraine has been a testing ground for Iran,” Erdan said as he referenced the military alliance between Tehran and Moscow, which has included the sale of Iranian arms to Russia for use in Ukraine, such as armed drones.
“Their armaments are now being sold to some of the most dangerous international actors. If this is what the Iranian threat looks like today, I truly cannot imagine what it will be like should Iran become a nuclear threshold state,” he said.
“It’s time, not for the international community [just] to wake up but to act against the Iranian threat,” Erdan said. “Iran must be stopped.”
Israel was among the dozens of countries that took to the podium to express their solidarity with Ukraine, during a two-day debate that was scheduled to end on Thursday afternoon with a vote on a resolution that called on Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine and for a just and comprehensive peace agreement.
The UNGA demanded that the “Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders” and called “for the cessation of hostilities.”
The draft UN resolution, which is non-binding but carries political weight, mirrors a demand the General Assembly made last year for Moscow to withdraw troops and halt the hostilities. Russia has described the text as “unbalanced and anti-Russian” and urged countries to vote “no”.
Israel, which plans to support the resolution, underscored at the UNGA its support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia.
“Israel will continue our solidarity with Ukraine by supporting this resolution – and every other resolution that reflects our position at the UN,” Erdan explained.
Erdan recalled that when Russia first attacked its southwestern neighbor, Jerusalem sent over 100 tons of humanitarian support including thousands of coats, blankets, tents and sleeping bags. It has since shipped medication, food, water purification systems and industrial-size generators, he said.
Israel established a field hospital inside Ukraine’s borders staffed by doctors, nurses and health professionals that treated 7,000 patients, the ambassador explained.
Just weeks ago, Israel delivered armored ambulances to Ukraine and is planning to send it a smart early warning system to alert its citizens against incoming missiles, Erdan said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced Russia’s invasion, citing from its “unambiguous” charter: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the General Assembly that “the West has brazenly ignored our concerns and continues to bring the military infrastructure of NATO closer and closer to our borders.”
Nebenzia said that Moscow “had no other option” but to launch what it has called a “special military operation” on February 24 last year to defend Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and ensure “the safety and security of our country, using military means.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters Ukraine was exercising its right to self-defense as enshrined in the UN Charter and that “when you are sending weapons to Ukraine, you are helping Ukraine to defend the UN Charter.”
“Russia violated the UN Charter by becoming an aggressor,” he said at the United Nations. “When you are sending weapons to them, you are helping to destroy the UN Charter and everything that the United Nations stands for – it’s very simple.”
The General Assembly has been the focus of UN action on Ukraine, with the 15-member Security Council paralyzed due to veto power by Russia and the United States along with China, France and Britain.
The council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine in the past year and will discuss the war again on Friday at a ministerial gathering, due to be attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Diplomats said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not scheduled to attend.
Reuters contributed to this report.