Whatever the Farsi term might be for chutzpah, Iran’s despots put on a staggering display of such stuff this past week. Apparently it wasn’t enough for Tehran that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to New York to provide the opening burlesque on Monday of the United Nations nonproliferation review conference, followed by Ahmadinejad’s usual whirl of interviews and press conferencing in the heart of the Great Satan. On top of that, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lingered to host a dinner at the plush Manhattan residence of Iran’s ambassador to the UN. And not just any old dinner. This was a dinner for the 15 members of the UN Security Council.
Whoa — let’s hit “pause,” and consider for a moment what that means. With this dinner, Iran designed a gathering that amounted to a shadow version of the UN Security Council — plus Iran itself, in the presiding seat. The members of the Security Council did not have to come. But, with the apparent (and quiet) exceptions of Nigeria and Gabon, they came.
None of them should have come. Iran is in flagrant violation of a series of binding UN sanctions meant to stop its race toward the nuclear bomb. Iran has deceived the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, scoffed at UN Security Council requests, demands and deadlines. And, P.S., according to the U.S. State Department, Iran is the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism.” (Terrorism is something the UN has not yet managed to officially define, but it is also something one might hope the Security Council would be against).
But, hey, why should the UN Security Council let Iran’s global terrorist networks and sanctions-violating nuclear program get in the way of a free meal in New York? Apparently forgetting President Barack Obama’s claim that Iran is finding itself increasingly “isolated,” the Obama State Department sent an envoy to Iran’s Manhattan dinner party. So did at least a dozen other members of the Security Council (Inner-City Press reports that Uganda came late, Mexico left early, and Gabon and Nigeria didn’t show up). President Barack Obama’s administration, which sent the number two envoy from the U.S. Mission, saw this Iranian banquet as “an opportunity for Iran to speak to its international obligations” — as one unnamed official told the Washington Post.
Who scripts this U.S. diplo-babble? Iran has been speaking loud and clear to its “international obligations,” and the gist of what Iran’s despots have been saying, and doing, is too rude to print in this space.
If Obama wants his diplomats to chat with envoys of Iran, the UN affords many opportunities to do so — without the U.S. Mission helping the Iranian foreign minister replicate the UN Security Council around his dinner table. Iran leads a busy life at the UN, and has lots of personnel running around there to help organize the spending of U.S. taxpayer contributions as the UN sees fit. All you have to do is hang around the stairwells, lounges and meeting chambers, and believe me, Tehran’s emissaries will turn up. Iran serves alongside the U.S. on the governing boards of such major UN agencies as UNICEF and the UN Development Program — both headquartered in New York. Iran will now be engaging in members’ business for the UN Commission on the Status of Women, on which Iran — with no objection from U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice — just gained a seat.
Speaking of Ambassador Susan Rice, where is she in all this? It’s public knowledge that the U.S. government, courtesy of U.S. tax dollars, provides its ambassador to the UN with a plush and spacious apartment in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. When Iran sent out invitations to Mottaki’s Security Council soiree, surely Rice could have availed herself of her fancy New York digs to host a dinner party of her own, that same night, and invite the 15 members of the Security Council — without Iran in tow. They could have had a cozy chat about the burgeoning problem of an Iranian government that has learned to exploit the UN in ways deeply at odds with the interests of the free world and the charter of the UN. (Of course there’s always the awkward possibility that an Iranian dinner could prove a bigger draw than a concurrent shindig thrown by Ambassador Rice. The upside, however, is that such a showdown could greatly clarify for the American voting public the true character of the UN Security Council).
As it is, Iran — a nuclear-weapons-seeking tyranny, under UN sanctions — effectively called an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday evening, took the head chair, and served dinner during the proceedings. The U.S. RSVPed “yes,” came knocking at the door, and ate what was served. What’s next? Yellowcake for dessert?