UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council refused
to approve a statement Friday that would condemn remarks about Israel's
impending destruction attributed to Iran's hard-line president because of
objections from Indonesia, council diplomats said.
Qatar, the only Arab nation on the council, said it had
no instructions, which also meant approval on Friday was impossible, the
diplomats said. The statement must be approved by all 15 council members.
opponents protest in Rostock, northeastern Germany, on the last day of the
Group of Eight summit. The Group of Eight industrial powers ended their
annual summit Friday by pledging 60 billion dollars to fight AIDS in
Africa and warned Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programmes.
France's UN Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, who called for condemnation
of the remarks attributed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said it was
unfortunate that the council could not act immediately. But he said he would try
again on Monday to get all 15 council members to approve the statement.
"At stake is ... a real question of principle. When the president of a
country talks about the destruction of another country, a member of the United
Nations, this is a serious issue," de La Sabliere said.
"His remark is very similar to the one he made in 2005 and the Security
Council reacted in 2005," the French ambassador said. "I am confident that the
council will react this time again."
In October 2005, the Iranian president caused outrage in the West when he
said in a speech that Israel's "Zionist regime should be wiped off the map."
The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday that Ahmadinejad
referred twice to Israel's destruction.
IRNA quoted the president as saying that in last summer's war between Israel
and Hezbollah "the Lebanese nation pushed the button to begin counting the days
until the destruction of the Zionist regime." It also quoted him as saying "God
willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt
Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, said Ahmadinejad had not
really threatened Israel, council diplomats said.
Indonesia also accused the Security Council of double standards in defending
Israel. It accused the council of doing nothing when Palestinians are attacked,
when Israeli ministers threatened Iran or when the newspaper Haaretz called for
Ahmadinejad's assassination, the diplomats said.
France, Britain and the United States stressed that there was a difference
between comments in a newspaper and comments by a head of state, the diplomats
said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the consultations were private.
"A statement by a head of state calling for or implying the destruction of a
member state of the United Nations is as a matter of principle unacceptable, and
this is a threat to international peace and security," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay
Khalilzad told reporters after the closed meeting.
On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay at the Iranian
The brief press statement proposed by France would have the council "strongly
condemn the remarks about the destruction of Israel" attributed to Ahmadinejad,
while reaffirming Israel's rights and obligations as a UN member. It would also
"reaffirm that under the United Nations Charter, al members have undertaken to
refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or
political independence of any state."