Security Council says committed to ‘international law’ as US-Iran tensions flare

Saber-rattling between Tehran and Washington has increased significantly in wake of a US killing of Qassem Soleimani last week

Illustrative: The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, November 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Illustrative: The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, November 20, 2019 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The UN Security Council on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to “an international order based on international law” amid fears of armed conflict between the United States and Iran.

The 15 members said the Security Council “reaffirms its commitment to the Charter of the United Nations, including the purposes and principles of the Charter, and an international order based on international law.”

The declaration was issued at the start of a debate on the UN Charter which had been tabled before the present crisis by Vietnam, a non-permanent member of the Security Council and which assumes the rotating presidency this month.

A record 111 countries, including several ministers, had signed up for the marathon debate on peace and security that will bring US and Iranian officials into the same room for the first time since the two countries came to the brink of war over the past week following the US assassination of a top Iranian general.

In this Janury 4, 2020, photo, released by the US military, a US Marine with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines that is part of a quick reaction force, carries a sand bag during the reinforcement of the US embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq. (US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot via AP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said this week he had been informed by UN chief Antonio Guterres that Washington has denied him a visa for his trip to the UN headquarters in New York.

Asked about Zarif’s complaint, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department does not comment on visa matters.

“The United States never say ‘no.’ They just don’t respond,” a UN official told AFP, noting that the tactic allowed Washington to deny any breach of its obligations as host country to the UN headquarters.

The same source, who asked not to be named, said that if the US formally refuses a request for a visa it is obliged to notify the UN leadership, which would cast its actions in an unfavorable light.

The declaration came as the UN prepares to celebrate 75 years since its founding in October 1945.

“The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” it said.

In the week since tensions flared between the United States and Iran, no member nation of the Security Council has called for an emergency meeting of the body to address the crisis that has brought the Middle East to the verge of open war.

US President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States had imposed new sanctions on Iran following missile strikes on bases housing US troops in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen significantly since the US carried out the airstrike that killed Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani. In the wake of the killing, the Iraqi parliament voted to press the government to expel US troops from the country and Iran announced that it will no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration has already reinstated all the US sanctions that were eased under the 2015 nuclear deal. But it still has room to boost the penalties and step up its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran. Some argue that Trump could call for the reimposition, or “snapback,” of all international sanctions at the United Nations.

Most Popular
read more: