UN puts rogue arms dealer Iran on panel negotiating arms treaty

15-member team currently at work at UN headquarters in New York. It’s ‘like choosing Bernie Madoff to police fraud on the stock market,’ says UN watchdog group

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passing through Egypt's Suez Canal in February 2011. (AP, File)
Iranian navy frigate IS Alvand passing through Egypt's Suez Canal in February 2011. (AP, File)

In what one critic called a move akin to placing Bernie Madoff in charge of thwarting fraud on the stock market, Iran has been elected as one of the 15 members of the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty conference.

It was chosen for the conference, currently under way in New York, precisely as the UN Security Council slammed Tehran’s illegal arms deals, including shipments to Syria, and while the international community continues to censure and sanction Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear program.

The Army Trade Treaty Conference aims to negotiate an international treaty regulating arms dealing. The vote on membership in the conference was held last Tuesday, and Iran was elected, alongside Japan and South Korea, as one of three countries representing the Asian group.

The choice of Iran was condemned by UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring group. “Right after a UN Security Council report found Iran guilty of illegally transferring guns and bombs to Syria, which is now murdering thousands of its own people, it defies logic, morality and common sense for the UN to now elect this same regime to a global post in the regulation of arms transfers,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch’s executive director.

On Friday, a UN report written by members of the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee found that “Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments.” At least two of these cases involved Syria, according to the report, which underlined the point that the regime of President Basher Assad “continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers.”

“This is like choosing Bernie Madoff to police fraud on the stock market,” Neuer said.

UN Watch, which first reported on Iran’s participation in the conference, called upon UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn the decision to give Iran “a position of responsibility in regulating the arms trade.” Ban should remember that the UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt its nuclear program, Neuer said.

The Iranian media, on the other hand, have been having a field day with Tehran’s election to the conference, boasting that their country “has been elected as deputy for the talks.”

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), for example, reported that “some 193 participating countries unanimously voted in favor of Iran during the fourth day of the meeting under way in the United Nations headquarters, to draft a bill on regulating arms trade in the world.”

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