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UN suspends Iran's General Assembly voting rights

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on September 2, 2019. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on September 2, 2019 [KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran described on Friday the United Nations (UN) decision to suspend Tehran's voting rights in the UN General Assembly due to its failure to pay dues as "shameful and unacceptable".

Recently, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the application of Article 19 of the UN Charter, which provides for the suspension of the voting rights of any country that fails to pay its dues for the past two years.

Tehran blamed its inability to pay UN contributions arrears (estimated at $16.2 million in February) on US financial sanctions, re-imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, which deprive Iran of access to the global financial system.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated in a message to Guterres, which he posted on Twitter on Thursday, that his country rejects the suspension of its voting rights, adding: "This decision is fundamentally flawed, entirely unacceptable and completely unjustified." Zarif added: "Iran's inability to fulfil its financial obligation toward the United Nations is directly caused by unlawful unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States."

READ: UN nuclear watchdog unable to access key Iran data since February

Zarif asserted that Iran's incapacity to pay "falls beyond its will," while urging the UN leadership to "remain true to the purposes and principles" of the UN charter, and to "refrain from any decision that betrays the spirit of sovereign equality of member states and weakens multilateralism."

In a letter sent on 28 May to the president of the UN General Assembly, Guterres stated that five member states are currently prevented from voting under Article 19 of the UN charter, confirming that Iran is required to pay around $16.2 million to regain its voting rights.

On the other hand, the UN secretary-general stressed in his letter, that the UN General Assembly could allow any country banned from voting under Article 19 to regain its voting rights: "If it finds that the concerned member state is incapable of paying due to conditions beyond its control."

In response to a question about Iran's current situation, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric announced at his daily briefing on Thursday: "We have been in very intense discussions with the Islamic Republic of Iran on finding a way for them to pay their dues."

Dujarric explained: "It is not from lack of trying from either our side or from their side, but as you know, the country falls under a number of bilateral sanctions, which makes it a bit challenging."

He added that concerning a member state that falls under the "automatic procedure" stipulated by Article 19, the possibility of regaining its voting rights is decided by the General Assembly member states.

READ: Iran's Rouhani cuts Quds Force budget, blocks missiles manufacturing funds

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