UN Security Council opens formal meeting on Iran protests

Violet Powell
January 6, 2018

A U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the protests roiling Iran is putting Tehran on notice that "the world will be watching" what it does, the USA ambassador said Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration have praised the anti-government protesters as people standing up to a repressive and corrupt regime. And Iran's United Nations envoy, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, complained in a letter to the Security Council president Wednesday that Trump's "absurd tweets" had "incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts".

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said at the meeting that the United States stood "unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation". The Iranian people know the truth.

Discussing the domestic situation of Iran at the council "does not help resolve the domestic issue of Iran", said China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wu Haitao.

A total of 21 people have died and hundreds have been arrested since December 28 as protests over economic woes turned against the Iranian regime, with attacks on government buildings and police stations. Haley said Friday that "the world should applaud their courage", and the USA "stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves".

The formal meeting was preceded by closed-door consultations requested by Russian Federation, which has accused Washington of interfering in Iran's national affairs and maintains the protests are not a matter for the council.

On Thursday, the United States formally requested an open meeting, and Russian Federation then called for the closed-door talks at 2:30 pm (1930 GMT) Friday.

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The United States called the meeting despite fierce criticism from Russian Federation, which accused Washington of interfering in Iran's internal affairs.

Delattre stated that however worrying, recent Iran events do not constitute per se a threat to worldwide peace and security.

France's ambassador to the UN said the protests do not threaten worldwide peace and security, in what may be an implicit criticism of the United States.

"It will be telling if any country tries to deny the Security Council from even having this discussion, just as the Iranian regime tries to deny its own people the ability to have their voices heard", Haley said Thursday.

"It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current US administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate", he said.

Russian Federation and its allies would need nine votes from the Security Council's 15 members in order to nix the meeting, a feat which would seem unlikely. Iran has also seen three days of large pro-government demonstrations.

Some other members urged a careful approach to weighing in on the protests: "Yes, of course, to vigilance and call for full respect of freedom of expression, but no to instrumentalization of the crisis from the outside — because it would only reinforce the extremes, which is precisely what we want to avoid", French Ambassador Francois Delattre said before the meeting.

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