Iran will preside over a section of the United Nation's Conference on Disarmament later this month, a move that one Republican lawmaker likened to "allowing the inmates to run the prison."
Iran, under U.N. sanctions for supplying arms to Hezbollah terrorists and for its continued nuclear activities, will lead the conference from May 27 to June 23, reports The Washington Free Beacon
. Following Iran's turn at leading the forum, Iraq will take over the conference from June 24 through Aug. 18.
The 21-week conference, the U.N.'s main forum for negotiating arms control agreements, began in January and ends in September. Hungary, India, and Indonesia have already presided over the talks, and Ireland will wrap them up. The U.N. said Iran is simply next in line in the rotation.
But Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, author of the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act of 2011, called the decision "absurd."
"When the absurd at the U.N. becomes the norm, it should be a clear indication that the objectives of that body have run afoul of its original intent and founding mission," said the Florida Republican and former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Sadly, having Iran, an international pariah state that is under U.N. sanctions for its illicit nuclear activities, chair this year’s Conference on Disarmament nears the top of the list of absurdities to come out of the U.N. in recent years."
Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the U.N., will not attend any meeting of the disarmament commission presided over by Iran, her office said in a statement denouncing Iran’s leadership role as “unfortunate and highly inappropriate.”
"While the presidency of the [Conference on Disarmament] is largely ceremonial and involves no substantive responsibilities, allowing Iran, a country that is in flagrant violation of its obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions and to the IAEA Board of Governors, to hold such a position runs counter to the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament itself," said the statement.
U.N. watchdog groups also criticized the decision. Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, said putting Iran in charge of nuclear talks is like "putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter."
"Iran is an international outlaw state that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism," Neuer said. "To make this rogue regime head of world arms control is simply an outrage. Abusers of international norms should not be the public face of the U.N."
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