Iran on Tuesday defended its election as the rotating chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament, a day after the United States announced that its ambassador to the conference would boycott any meeting led by Tehran.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is a founding member of the United Nations,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s UN mission.
“Its election to the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament, as the most important disarmament negotiating body of the UN, is its right in accordance with the established practice and rules of procedure of this organ,” he added.
Iran will take over presidency of the disarmament conference from May 27 until June 23 under an alphabetical rotation among the 65 member states.
The conference is struggling to craft a deal on nuclear disarmament, preventing arms from spreading to outer space and halting the development of other weapons of mass destruction.
Iran, meanwhile, faces four rounds of UN sanctions over its nuclear program.
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission at the United Nations, said on Monday that Iran, and any nation facing sanctions for its weapons program, should be "barred" from holding formal UN positions.
"The United States will not be represented at the ambassadorial level during any meeting presided over by Iran," she stressed.
"The United States continues to believe that countries that are under Chapter VII sanctions for weapons proliferation or massive human-rights abuses should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in UN bodies."
Pelton acknowledged that the conference presidency is largely ceremonial with no responsibilities.
She added, however, that "allowing Iran -- a country that is in flagrant violation of its obligations under multiple UN Security Council resolutions and to the IAEA board of governors -- to hold such a position runs counter to the goals and objectives of the Conference on Disarmament itself.”
Iran's position heading the conference has also angered non-government lobby groups such as UN Watch.
"This is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women's shelter," said Hillel Neuer, head of the Geneva-based UN Watch, announcing that the organization would organize protest events involving Iranian dissidents.
"Iran is an international outlaw state that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas, aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism," said Neuer.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of the Shavuot holiday in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)