The United Nations said on Thursday that it had suspended the voting rights of Iran and four smaller countries due to criminal charges. The move sparked a furious reaction from Iran, calling it ‘surprisingly absurd’ and blaming the country’s debt on US sanctions that have frozen Iranian funds in banks worldwide.
The episode threatened to inject further irritation into the alienated US-Iranian relationship, and the United Nations is entangled just as diplomats want to advance negotiations aimed at US and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers to recover.
President Trump rejected the agreement three years ago and restored the economic sanctions that lifted the agreement. Iran responded by re-entering uranium enrichment and other actions curtailed under the terms of the agreement. President Biden has said he wants to rejoin the nuclear deal, but Iran has said the United States must drop its sanctions in verifiable ways before Iran can comply again.
Secretary-General António Guterres said in a letter to the President of the General Assembly that Iran and four African countries – the Central African Republic, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia – all meet the violation threshold under Article 19 of violated the UN Charter. . The article stipulates that any member may not vote in the General Assembly due to the previous two years’ assessments.
Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for mr. Guterres, said such letters are sent regularly when any member reaches the two-year threshold. The ratings are calculated according to a complex formula based in part on the economic size of a country.
In early 2020, for example, Venezuela, Yemen and Lebanon were among the countries that temporarily lost voting rights.
The General Assembly can make exceptions to the rule and stipulate that some countries face such mitigating circumstances that they cannot pay and that they should not be punished.
But that has not yet happened – at least not yet – in the case of Iran, which owes more than $ 16.2 million, by far most of the five criminal countries mentioned in the latest letter from Mr. Guterres, dated 28 May, has been identified.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, a former UN ambassador who knows his way into the organization, expressed outrage in a Twitter post at the loss of voting rights, and a copy of his reply to Mr. Guterres attached.
“This decision is fundamentally flawed, completely unacceptable and completely unfair,” reads the letter from Mr. Zarif.
‘It is surprisingly absurd that Iranian people who were forcibly blocked by a permanent member of the UN Security Council to transfer their own money and resources to buy food and medicine – let alone the overdue UN contributions to pay – because they are now being punished for not paying overdue budget by the secretariat of the same Organization, ”reads the statement.
Mr. Dujarric defends the issuance of the letter, describing it as a ‘mechanical procedure’ dictated by the rules of the UN Charter.
“We have had very intense talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran about how they can pay their fees,” he said. Dujarric told reporters during a daily briefing. ‘It’s not a lack of effort on our part or on their part, but as you know, the country falls under a number of bilateral sanctions, which makes it a bit challenging. These discussions therefore continue in good faith from all sides. ”
In Tehran, Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday that the Office of Foreign Asset Management, part of the US Treasury Department, had granted Iran a license to transfer the money owed to the United Nations. carrying from a bank in the south. Korea, one of several around the world where Iranian funds are shelled.
“This payment will be made soon,” he said. Khatibzadeh said.
The Office of Foreign Asset Management, which administers the sanctions against Iran, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.