The UN suspends Iran’s voting rights for overdue dues. Iran is furious.
The United Nations said Thursday it had suspended the voting rights of Iran and four smaller countries for overdue dues. The move sparked a furious reaction from Iran, which called it “surprisingly absurd” and blamed the country’s arrears on US sanctions that had frozen Iranian funds in banks around the world.
The episode threatened to inject another irritant into the US-Iran relationship, entangling the United Nations just as diplomats seek to advance negotiations to restore US and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the great powers.
President Trump repudiated the deal three years ago, reinstating the economic sanctions the deal lifted. Iran responded by resuming uranium enrichment and other actions that had been curtailed under the terms of the agreement. President Biden has said he wants to join the nuclear deal, but Iran has said the United States must verifiably drop its sanctions before Iran returns to compliance.
Secretary-General António Guterres said in a letter to the President of the General Assembly that Iran and four African countries – the Central African Republic, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia – have all passed the delinquency threshold under Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations. . The article specifies that any member subject to the two previous years of contributions cannot vote at the General Assembly.
Mr Guterres spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said such letters are routinely forwarded when a member reaches the two-year threshold. Valuations are calculated according to a complex formula based in part on the economic size of a country.
In early 2020, for example, Venezuela, Yemen and Lebanon were among the countries that temporarily lost their voting rights.
The General Assembly can make exceptions to the rule, determining that some countries face extenuating circumstances that they cannot afford and should not be penalized.
But that has not happened – at least not yet – in the case of Iran, which owes more than $ 16.2 million, by far the largest of the five delinquent countries identified in Mr. Guterres, dated May 28.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, a former UN ambassador who knows the organization well, expressed his outrage in a Post on Twitter loss of voting rights, and attached a copy of his response to Mr. Guterres.
“This decision is fundamentally flawed, utterly unacceptable and utterly unjustified,” said Zarif’s letter.
“It is surprisingly absurd that the Iranian people, who have been forcibly prevented from transferring their own money and resources to buy food and medicine – let alone pay the arrears of contributions to the United Nations – by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, be now punished for not being allowed to pay budget arrears by the secretariat of the same organization, ”he said.
Mr. Dujarric defended the issuance of the letter, describing it as a “mechanical procedure” dictated by the rules of the United Nations charter.
“We have had very intense discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran to find a way for them to pay their dues,” Dujarric told reporters at a daily briefing. “It’s not for lack of trying on our side or their side, but as you know the country falls under a number of bilateral sanctions, which makes it a bit difficult. These discussions are therefore continuing in good faith on all sides. “
In Tehran on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the Office of Foreign Assets Control, part of the US Treasury Department, had granted Iran a license to transfer the money owed to the United Nations from a bank in South Korea, one of several in the world where Iranian funds are confiscated.
“This payment will be made soon,” Khatibzadeh said.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control, which handles sanctions imposed on Iran, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.