UNITED NATIONS - Iran's UN Mission sent a letter Thursday requesting that
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be allowed to speak before the Security Council
when it votes on new sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to suspend uranium
enrichment, the council president said.
South Africa's UN Ambassador
Dumisani Kumalo said he would present Iran's request to the 14 other council
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
gestures during a visit to the 'Cuba Libre' neighborhood in Managua,
Sunday, Jan. 14, 2007. [AP]
"The Security Council will have to decide whether they accommodate this or
not," said Kumalo, whose country holds the rotating council presidency. "The
challenge right now is that we don't know when this could be."
Kumalo said under the UN Charter and Security Council rules, if a member
state has an issue before the council and requests to appear before its members,
"this must be considered."
Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US Mission to the United Nations, said the
US has received official visa requests for an Iranian delegation.
He refused to disclose any details, but a council diplomat said Iran asked
for visas for 38 people to accompany Ahmadinejad, including Foreign Minister
Manouchehr Mottaki and Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.
The request from Iran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif arrived as the council's
five veto-wielding members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and
France - and Germany agreed on a modest package of new sanctions to step up the
pressure on Tehran to suspend enrichment.
Their draft resolution was presented to the 10 non-permanent members, who
were not part of the negotiations and will now send it to their capitals to be
The full council isn't expected to discuss the draft resolution until
Wednesday, Kumalo said, so the earliest possible vote would be late next week,
though the timetable could change.
Iran has rejected UN demands that it halt enrichment, insisting its nuclear
program is peaceful and aimed at producing energy. The US and its European
allies are concerned its real aim is to produce nuclear weapons.
Earlier Thursday, Ahmadinejad called the Security Council an "illegitimate"
body and said any new sanctions imposed on his country would only stimulate it
to be self-sufficient and further develop nuclear technology.
Acting US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, reacting to that comment and the
possibility of the Iranian president addressing the council, said: "I find it
ironic that a president who's quoted today saying that he tears up Security
Council resolutions and has no respect for what the council does, is interested
in coming and speaking to the council."