UN Rewards Iran With Top Arms Trade Conference Post
By Joseph Klein
Last May, according to Reuters, a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts reported to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee that Iran shipped weapons to the Syrian regime, helping to enable the regime to massacre its citizens and violating a UN ban on weapons exports by Iran.
"Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments," the report stated. "Two of these cases involved [Syria], as were the majority of cases inspected by the Panel during its previous mandate, underscoring that Syria continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers."
But at the UN, bad conduct is often ignored and even rewarded. Former Secretary General Kofi A. Annan, Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, was asked last month at a press briefing whether he thought that Iran could play a positive role in finding a solution to the violence in Syria. His answer, incredibly, was, "I think Iran, as an important country in the region, I hope will be part of the solution."
By late June, Kofi Annan became even more enthusiastic about the role the illegal weapons exporting Iranian regime could play. "Iran should be part of the solution," he declared.
The current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, apparently agrees. At the daily press briefing at UN headquarters on July 11th, a spokesman for Ban Ki-moon described Iran as part of the solution to the current crisis in Syria.
In addition to all this expression of confidence in the Iranian regime's potential as a peacemaker in Syria, despite its illegal arms exports to the Assad regime, Iran impressed its fellow UN member states so much that it was elected on July 3rd to a top post on the UN Arms Trade Treaty conference. This disturbing news came to light thanks to an exclusive report by the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
"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 regulating the transfer of guns and bombs," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
"This is like choosing Bernie Madoff to police fraud on the stock market. And the U.N.'s scandalous choice of Iran is exactly why we fear that Syria's declared bid for a U.N. Human Rights Council seat is not impossible."
The UN Arms Trade Treaty conference is so shrouded in secrecy that the UN conference website and summary failed to name the 15 members elected, including Iran. This conference is currently hammering out in secret the details of a treaty on the regulation of trade in small arms that some observers believe will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens in legal possession of firearms if the Obama administration climbs on board, as it is expected to do.
The United Nations has a long history of feigning displeasure with Iran's conduct while rewarding Iran at the same time. For example, a United Nations body, the World Intellectual Property Organization, has reportedly violated UN sanctions itself against both Iran and North Korea by providing computer equipment to the two rogue nations.
"Providing these thugs with sensitive technology has the potential to enable their dangerous agendas," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee which is investigating the UN's flouting of its own sanctions, said in a statement. "This serious offense cannot go overlooked or unpunished."
This is not an isolated example. The UN bureaucracy system-wide has been operating at cross-purposes with UN sanctions for years to help Iran, through an inter-agency UN team coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It has aided Iran to obtain potential dual-use technology enabling, in the words of a document issued by the United Nations Country Team in Iran, the "transfer of knowledge in science and technology through technology-based services," programs to "improve technological capacity in industries," and "joint international research projects." This included "advance processing technologies and innovative system design."
The United Nations Development Programme has worked with the Iranian regime to strengthen its export, import and production capacities. The UNDP's extensive activities on the Iranian regime's behalf, and the hard currency pumped into Iran's economy by the UNDP and its affiliated UN agencies, have operated at cross-purposes with the ongoing efforts by the UN Security Council and Western democracies to isolate Iran from the international financial community.
Iran's term on the executive board of the UNDP just expired at the end of 2011. But the gravy train continues in 2012, as the executive board – even without Iran – approved the final country program for Iran.
The United Nations is helpless in trying to quell the violence in Syria and to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. That's a given, particularly in light of Russia's and China's recalcitrance. However, does the UN really have to go out of its way to reward Iran in spite of its numerous bad acts? Apparently so.