Sparks fly as Iran set to lead world disarmament conference

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Putting Iran in charge of the four-week U.N. Conference on Disarmament that kicks off on May 27 is “like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter,” says Hillel Neuer, the head of the Geneva-based advocacy group U.N. Watch in a Ynet report.

As such, the United States is vowing to boycott the event. Iran is furious, saying its rightful leadership role — it comes by way of an agreed-upon rotation among U.N. members — is being infringed.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a founding member of the United Nations,” said Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran’s U.N. mission, in the Ynet report. “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.”

The 65-nation conference started meeting in 1978 as a means of discussing and negotiating biological and chemical weapons agreements. Members rarely agree on terms and conditions, however. For instance, one key priority has been for panel members to reach consensus about nuclear bomb-making materials — but Pakistan has proven a staunch opponent.

And here comes Iran in a leadership role — despite the sanctions it faces by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union for refusing to stop its nuclear enrichment activities that are seen worldwide as a step toward nuclear weapon capability. Iran has steadfastly denied its nuclear enrichment is aimed at building weapons, and insisted its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Earlier this week, Erin Pelton, the spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said Iran’s leadership role at the disarmament conference was “unfortunate and highly inappropriate,” and that the United States would boycott any meeting that Tehran led, Ynet reported.

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