Iran is running for the vice chairmanship of the UN Disarmament Commission, which the United States said on Thursday was unacceptable in light of Tehran's many breaches of Security Council demands that it halt its controversial atomic work.
Several UN diplomats told Reuters that Iran was running unopposed for one of two vice chair posts allotted to the Asia-Pacific Group, one of five regional UN groups.
Iran's UN mission defended its candidacy for the post, saying Tehran has been a "front-runner" on disarmament for years.
Western diplomats said such UN posts are largely symbolic, though Tehran uses them to try to improve its reputation at the United Nations.
Washington, which cannot prevent Tehran from taking up the post, said that Iran was the wrong country to hold a position on the Disarmament Commission, an obscure committee that discusses and makes recommendations about disarmament issues.
"Iran is absolutely not a suitable choice to be a vice chair of the UN Disarmament Commission," said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the United Nations.
"Iran is the subject of multiple...Security Council (sanctions) resolutions regarding its nuclear program," she said. "Iran is also in violation of its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
"It is incumbent upon regional groups to enforce the common-sense principle that countries subject to UN sanctions should not be granted formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies," she added.
Iran has been hit with several rounds of Security Council, US and European Union sanctions for refusing to suspend its nuclear activities as demanded by the 15-nation council. Tehran rejects Western powers' allegations that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability and insists its atomic ambitions are entirely peaceful.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran's UN mission, rejected the US criticism.
"Iran is a major victim of weapons of mass destruction in recent decades and as a founding member of the United Nations and the chair of NAM (non-aligned movement),...has played a front-runner role in disarmament issues," he said.
He said Tehran has been pushing for the creation of a "Middle East nuclear weapons free zone," which helped establish Iran's reputation as "one of the best nominees for this position."
Earlier this week, Israel condemned the selection of Iran as a "rapporteur" for the 193-nation UN General Assembly's First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 10/10/2013
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