|Iran defends candidacy for UN disarmament panel post||
TEHRAN – Iran has defended its candidacy for the vice chairmanship of the UN Disarmament Commission, saying Tehran has been a “front-runner” on disarmament for years, according to Reuters.
Earlier this week, Iran was elected as a “rapporteur” for the 193-nation UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security.
The UN Disarmament Commission is separate from the First Committee but is related because of its focus on disarmament issues.
Several UN diplomats told Reuters that Iran was running unopposed for one of two vice chair posts allotted to the Asia-Pacific Group, one of five regional UN groups.
However, the United States, which cannot prevent Tehran from taking up the post, has raised objections to Iran’s candidacy, saying that Iran was the wrong country to hold a position on the Disarmament Commission, a committee that discusses and makes recommendations about disarmament issues.
“Iran is the subject of multiple ... Security Council (sanctions) resolutions regarding its nuclear program,” said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
“It is incumbent upon regional groups to enforce the common-sense principle that countries subject to UN sanctions should not be granted formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies,” she added.
Iran has been hit with several rounds of Security Council, U.S. and European Union sanctions as the United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s UN mission, rejected the U.S. criticism.
“Iran is a major victim of weapons of mass destruction in recent decades and as a founding member of the United Nations and the chair of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), ... has played a front-runner role in disarmament issues,” he said.
He said Tehran has been pushing for the creation of a “Middle East nuclear weapons free zone,” which helped establish Iran’s reputation as “one of the best nominees for this position.”
Iran previously served as vice chair of the UN Disarmament Commission in 2006 and 2007, and its deputy foreign minister was chairman in 2000.
Next week Iran will meet with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany in Geneva in an attempt to revive stalled negotiations aimed at ending the decade-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.
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