Delegations arrive for the start of a UN Security Council meeting concerning the situation in Iran, January 5, 2018 in New York City. (AFP)
A United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss the protests in Iran turned into criticism of the United States for requesting to meet on what some member states said was an internal issue.
Russia’s UN envoy said the US is trying to bend the UN Security Council mandate, which does not deal with countries’ internal affairs, by calling a meeting with the demand to support protest in Iran.
“We obviously regret the loss of lives as a result of the demonstrations that were not so peaceful. However, let Iran deal with its own problems, especially since this is precisely what’s taking place,” Vassily Nebenzia said.
He slammed the US for diverting attention from important international issues the UNSC should be addressing.
“You are dispersing the energy of the Security Council, instead of focusing it on dealing with key crisis situations in Afghanistan, Syria Libya, Iraq, Yemen, North Korea, and the African continent. Instead of that, you are proposing that we interfere in the internal affairs of a state.”
“We don’t want to get involved in destabilizing Iran or any other country.”
He also reminded Washington of its own history of cracking down on protests.
“If we follow your logic, then we should have meetings of the Security Council after the events in Ferguson or after the dispersal by force of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Manhattan.”
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, left, speaks to American Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley before a Security Council meeting on Iran, January 5, 2018. (AP)
In her opening speech, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley dubbed the unrest in Iran a “spontaneous expression of fundamental human rights,” claiming the protests were simultaneously playing out in “over 78 locations.”
“The US stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families and dignity for their nation. We will not be quiet,” Haley said, dismissing any attempts to paint the protesters as “puppets of foreign powers.”
Attempt to disrupt Iran nuclear deal
The call to support anti-government protesters is another attempt to dismantle the hard-won international nuclear deal struck in 2015, Nebenzia argued.
“The real reason for convening today's meeting is not an attempt to protect human rights or promote the interests of the Iranian people, but rather a veiled attempt to seize the current moment to continue to undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). We consider it unacceptable to intentionally undermine the support of the international community.”
French Ambassador to the United Nations Francois Delattre (REUTERS)
No threat to international peace
Several speakers at the Security Council pointed out that the unrest in Iran falls outside the UNSC’s ambit.
French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre said: “However worrying the events of the last few days in Iran may be, they do not constitute per se a threat to international peace and security... We must be wary of any attempts to exploit this crisis for personal ends, which would have the diametrically opposed outcome to that which is wished.”
And Deputy Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi pointed to the UN Charter: “The Iranian situation does not pose any threat on international peace or security, nor is it on the agenda of the Security Council. Discussing this domestic situation in Iran by the council is a practice that is not in line with the council’s responsibility as outlined in the UN Charter. Doing so does not help resolve the domestic issue of Iran.”
The protests in several Iranian cities, apparently over rising food prices, unemployment, and the overall economic situation started on December 28. It has largely tapered off. The unrest has resulted in at least 21 deaths and hundreds of arrests.
US ‘abuse’ of UNSC
Addressing the UNSC session on Friday, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Gholamali Khoshroo expressed regret that the council had been forced to reconvene and discuss an issue that was “purely domestic.”
“It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current US administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate, putting on display the failure of the council to fulfill its real responsibility in maintaining international peace and security,” he asserted.
He reiterated the point that Tehran officials have been underlining as the protests unfolded: The rioters are being influenced from outside the country.
“We have hard evidence of the violence in Iran by a handful of protesters, in some cases resulting in the deaths of policemen and security officers, being very clearly directed from abroad. These violent elements surfaced in the crowd as early as Friday evening last week at the inceptions of the protests. At that point, the elements outside of Iran including instigators based in the United States and Europe began to be visible. Incitement to violence included encouraging and training people to use Molotov cocktails, to seize ammunition parts and to stage an armed uprising.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter after the session that the Security Council “rebuffed the US’ naked attempt to hijack its mandate.”
He said the majority emphasized the need to fully implement the 2015 nuclear deal and to refrain from interfering in the affairs of other countries. “Another FP (foreign policy) blunder for the Trump administration,” he wrote.
Chief of Staff of Iran's Presidential Office Mahmoud Vaezi said on Saturday that the UNSC session was yet another heavy defeat for the Trump administration.
“Once again, it was proved that all measures adopted by Trump and his administration against Iran and the JCPOA bode nothing but frustration and isolation for them,' Vaezi said.
RT, Reuters, Press TV, AP and IRNA contributed to this report.