The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations on Friday accused the United States of abusing its power as a permanent member of the Security Council during an emergency meeting called by the Trump administration to discuss unrest and protests in Iran.
Gholamali Khoshroo said the protests that have roiled Iran over the past week were an internal domestic affair, outside the mandate of the Security Council. He cited a long list of protest movements in the United States, including Occupy Wall Street, anti-Vietnam protests at Kent State University in 1970 and the subsequent shooting deaths of students, and the recent protests over the killing of African Americans by police officers.
Khoshroo said for Washington to call a meeting to discuss Iranian protests was a “preposterous example” of U.S. bullying tactics at the United Nations and added that it had “lost every shred of moral, political and legal authority and credibility in the eyes of the whole world.”
“It is a discredit to the Security Council to take up a matter that is of pure domestic nature while failing objectively to lift a finger when it comes to genuine issues,” he said, citing Palestinians yearning for a homeland and a Saudi-led bombing campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Khoshroo was the final ambassador to speak in a 90-minute debate to address what U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the “troubling and dangerous situation in Iran.”
Eight days of protest have led to at least 21 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests, mostly in clashes with security forces. On the ground in Iran, however, the unrest appears to have ebbed on Friday. But Haley called on the Security Council to “amplify the message of the Iranian people.”
“Today the people of Iran are speaking to their government, and their message is undeniable: ‘Stop the support for terrorism. Stop giving billions of our money to killers and dictators. Stop taking our wealth and spending it on foreign fighters and proxy wars. Think of us,’ ” she said.
Protests that initially aired economic grievances turned political and spread to small cities and towns throughout the country. Some demonstrators openly chanted anti-government slogans at the hard-line clerics who run the country and at President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who promised more political freedoms and economic improvements following sanctions relief after the 2015 nuclear deal.
They were followed by large pro-government rallies in Tehran and other cities, all of which were widely covered by Iranian state television.
The Trump administration has been strongly supportive of the protesters and condemned the Iranian government.
President Trump has been particularly harsh, tweeting his support for Iranians who “are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.”
But the Europeans — who negotiated the nuclear agreement along with the United States, Russia and China — have reacted more cautiously by expressing support for the protesters without antagonizing the government with strident condemnation.
The Security Council debate underscored those differences. The European diplomats spoke in support of the right to free speech and peaceful protest. But several pointedly raised the nuclear agreement and encouraged everyone to uphold their commitments.
Trump has declined to certify Iran is compliant and suggested he may not waive suspended sanctions later this month, in effect walking away from it.
Francois Delattre, France’s ambassador to the U.N., called the nuclear agreement a “cornerstone of stability” in the region, and warned of dire consequences from abandoning it.
“We must maintain a robust dialogue with Iran to ensure it doesn’t further pose a risk stoking regional instability,” he said.
The United States was also rebuked by Russia’s ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, who sarcastically questioned whether events in the United States should be addressed by the U.N.
“By your logic, we should have initiated a Security Council meeting after the well-known events in Ferguson,” he said.