Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Won't Participate in UN Disarmament Forum While Iran in Charge

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Won't Participate in UN Disarmament Forum While Iran in Charge

Article excerpt

Canada to shun UN forum as Iran put in charge


OTTAWA - Canada is once again temporarily turning its back on the United Nations Conference on Disarmament over its selection of a controversial president.

Iran take its turn at the helm of the organization later in May, prompting Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to announce Tuesday that Canada will sit out the sessions during their term.

Giving Iran the position, even if it is only temporary, makes a mockery of disarmament issues, said Baird spokesman Rick Roth.

"In Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, the regime is working directly against global disarmament goals and subverting the fundamental principles of this committee," Roth said in a statement.

"Iran's leaders blatantly ignore their international obligations, all while undermining regional security."

Iran presides over the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament from May 27 until June 23.

The rotating chairmanship is largely ceremonial but high-profile; the conference is considered the world's most important disarmament negotiating forum.

In its 50-year history, it has been responsible for negotiating the international non-proliferation treaty, as well as conventions on the prohibition of biological and chemical weapons.

But the conference has been locked in a stalemate for two decades, failing to reach new arms control accords.

Iran's election to the presidency of the conference is its right, according to existing rules and procedure, said Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for the Iranian mission to the UN.

"During its presidency, the Islamic Republic of Iran would focus on promoting the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament through according the highest priority to nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear arsenals of the nuclear-weapon states in an irreversible, transparent and internationally verifiable manner," Miryousefi said in an email. …

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