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Trump to chair UN council meeting to highlight grievances with Iran

President Donald Trump (Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Department of Defense)
September 05, 2018

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. President Donald Trump will chair a UN Security Council meeting on Iran this month during the annual gathering of world leaders in New York, to spotlight his grievances against Tehran.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced the move late on September 4 as the United States assumed the rotating presidency of the council, where it has pushed unsuccessfully in the past year for punitive measures against Iran.

Haley and Trump have repeatedly attacked Iran, accusing it of meddling in the wars in Syria and Yemen and violating the spirit of its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, which Trump abandonned in May.

Haley told reporters at the UN that Trump decided to chair the council meeting on September 26 so he could “address Iran’s violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region.”

“President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order,” said Haley, who accused Iran of “supporting terrorism” around the world.

“If you continue to look at the ballistic-missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of Security Council resolutions,” she said. “These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

Iran is subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions imposed by the council, and Washington has repeatedly alleged that it is violating the embargo by providing arms to its allies in Yemen.

Iran has denied supporting terrorism or supplying weapons to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, and it has adamantly rejected U.S. demands that it stop making and testing ballistic missiles, which Tehran maintains are needed for its defense.

Diplomats said Iran could request to speak at the meeting Trump is chairing during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly. Iranian President Hassan Rohani is expected to address the assembly one day before the meeting, on September 25.

Haley said the United States would not object to Rohani speaking at the meeting. The Iranian UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Haley denied the United States, by seeking to galvinize international pressure on Iran, was seeking “regime change.” She claimed the U.S. effort was aimed at supporting the desires of the “Iranian people.”

“We are going to stand with the Iranian people. They have every right to be heard in their government and they have every right to change it,” she said.

Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said the Iran meeting should focus on the implementation of the nuclear agreement, which Russia, China, and European powers are all honoring despite the U.S. withdrawal.

“We very much hope that there will be views voiced in connection with the U.S. withdrawal,” Polyansky said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an appearance on Russia’s Channel One TV early on September 5 lambasted the U.S. stance on Iran, calling it “unrealistic” in light of Iran’s long history and large population, state-run news agency TASS reported.

“The U.S. has a defiant attitude to Iran, accusing it of all deadly sins and demanding that Iran leave any country, except for Iran itself, and stop even exerting political influence on its neighbors and other regional states. I think this is an unprofessional and unrealistic approach. It cannot prevail. How can a state with its traditions that go back centuries and 75 million people be locked in its borders?” Lavrov was reported as saying.

In February, Russia vetoed a U.S.-led effort in the council to reprimand Tehran for failing to prevent its weapons from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Huthi rebels, a charge that Tehran denies.