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A Disarming Election
Iran and Syria lead the U.N. Disarmament Commission.


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Anne Bayefsky

On April 9, 2007 there was a United Nations believe-it-or-not moment extraordinaire. At the same time that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad declared his country was now capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, the U.N. reelected Iran as a vice chairman of the U.N. Disarmament Commission.

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Yes Ripley, the very U.N. body charged with promoting nuclear nonproliferation installed in a senior position the state that the Security Council recently declared violated its nonproliferation resolutions.

So in Iran at the Natanz nuclear facility Ahmadinejad gloated: “With great pride, I announce as of today our dear country is among the countries of the world that produces nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.”  And in New York, courtesy of his U.N. platform, Iranian Disarmament Vice-Chairman Seyed Mohammad Ali Robatjazi railed against “noncompliance with the NPT [nuclear nonproliferation treaty] by the United States” and “the Zionist lobby.”

It took the U.N. a mere five days to rehabilitate Iran after the British kidnap victims made it home alive. Just the night before on April 8, Faye Turney, the only female victim, revealed her Iranian abductors stripped her to her underwear, caged her in a tiny, freezing cell, and subjected her to mental torture such as leading her to believe that her death was imminent.

But while this was actually happening to Faye Turney, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, the president of the U.N.’s lead human-rights body — the U.N. Human Rights Council — was making this announcement, March 26, 2006:

 

I would like to make the following statement adopted by the Council. One,…the Human Rights Council has in closed meetings examined the human rights situation in…the Islamic Republic of Iran…Two, the Human Rights Council has decided to discontinue the consideration of the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran…Three,…members of the Human Rights Council should make no reference in the public debate to the confidential decisions and material concerning [the Islamic Republic of Iran]…

This is not simply a very bad joke. The U.N. is feted by many as the go-to address for international progress in the world today. Congressman Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, declared at a hearing on U.N. reform in February that “the U.N. provides vital support to core U.S. foreign-policy initiatives” including on Iran and the way forward is to “ratchet up our level of diplomacy there.”

“Ratchet up” suffers from some elementary numerical challenges — not to mention the netherworld where that ratcheting is headed. Congressman Lantos and his close friend former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have long been drinking from the same well. The “reformed” Human Rights Council was Annan’s creation. Lantos is the leading advocate of the United States joining the Human Rights Council — where presumably we could jump up and down while exercising one vote out of 47. Annan, of his own volition, went to Tehran last September and urged the world not to isolate Iran immediately after the Iranian president had ignored a Security Council deadline to suspend its nuclear activities. Lantos confessed to the House Committee at the end of February that he has been begging for a visa to go to Iran for the past ten years and “will be among the first ones to do so once this visa is granted.”

Lantos was pleased with his recent trip, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Syria. The U.N. shares his view that one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism ought to be a welcome player on the world stage. Following the election on Monday of Iran as vice chairman, the U.N. Disarmament Commission elected Syria as its rapporteur.

The line between U.N. diplomacy and farce has been crossed. The real tragedy is that the defensible border between our freedom-loving rights-respecting world and the cave of our enemies is fading along with it



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