There’s a sort of awful symmetry to it. While such UN-sanctioned rogue states as Iran and North Korea carry on with nuclear proliferation, the UN carries on with its own proliferation of feckless Orwellian meetings on nuclear disarmament. And these days it seems there’s a high-level post for Iran at just about every meeting. That includes the New York-based UN Disarmament Commission, which on Nov. 20th held an organizational meeting at which Iran was elected as a vice chair for the 2014 main activities. Iran’s Fars News Agency celebrated this as Iran’s latest “success” within UN disarmament circles.
Not that it’s easy to keep track of all Iran’s recent UN disarmament posts. The UN has a Disarmament Conference, based in Geneva, which was chaired by Iran last spring. Then there is the General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee, at which Iran in early October was elected to the post of rapporteur. And of course there was the UN General Assembly’s first ever high level meeting on nuclear disarmament this September, which was engendered by Iran and showcased Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
Now comes Iran’s election as one of eight vice-chairs to the UN Disarmament Commission.
For this to happen at the UN is not astonishing. That’s how the UN works, and that’s why it’s a strange arrangement that American taxpayers continue to be dunned for the biggest share of the funding that bankrolls the chairs on which Iran’s envoys of “disarmament” sit — while the Iranian government pays a pittance to the UN, leaving more money free back home for such stuff as its UN-sanctioned nuclear program. Indeed, just last month a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the UN told Reuters “Iran is absolutely not a suitable choice to be a vice chair of the U.N. Disarmament Commission.”
But what is astonishing, or ought to be, is who then apparently nodded along last week with Iran’s “election” to a vice-chairmanship on the UN Disarmament Commission. According to a UN General Assembly press release on the proceedings, Iran’s envoy was among those elected as a vice chair “by acclamation.” (For those of you who are used to the quaint idea that elections should involve actual votes, it might be useful to know that at the UN the balloting is often dispensed with unless a member state actively calls for a vote; the preferred approach is consensus — the candidate is acclaimed by all, and that’s that).
Was this another perquisite offered by the U.S. and other “world powers” to Iran as part of the “peace for our time” short-term stop-gap already-coming-unglued nuclear deal struck last weekend in Geneva? Or simply another spineless U.S. moment at the UN? Or does it by now all run together?