Security Council refuses to condemn Iran

Updated: 2007-06-09 10:01

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.

G8 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. [AFP]

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 occupier regime."

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 report.

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."

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