Following Anti-Jewish Tirade, U.N. Slammed for Co-Hosting Event With Iran

By Patrick Goodenough | June 28, 2012 | 4:53 AM EDT

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September, 25, 2009 (UN Photo by Mark Garten)

( – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday repudiated Iran’s vice president for using a U.N.-sponsored event to accuse “Zionists” of driving global drug trafficking. And a senior Republican lawmaker criticized the United Nations for co-hosting events with Iran in the first place.

Addressing a conference in Tehran marking the U.N.’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Tuesday, Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi accused Jews of various conspiracies against Gentiles, including the killing of black babies.

The fact that no Jews were drug addicts was proof that they were behind the drugs trade, he charged, saying the Iranian government would pay anyone who could find a single Jewish addict.

Rahimi also declared that the Jewish Talmud “teaches them how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother,” according to a report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

Addressing the same event before Rahimi spoke, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) representative in Iran, Antonio De Leo, had described Iran as a “key strategic partner in the fight against drugs.”

Rahimi’s remarks drew strong condemnation from the Israeli government and from Jewish organizations, some of which urged Ban to speak out.

Asked for Ban’s response to these comments, spokesman Martin Nesirky issued a brief statement saying, “The Secretary-General has on many occasions called on Iranian officials to refrain from these kinds of anti-Semitic statements. He does so again in response to these latest reported comments.

“He believes it is the responsibility of leaders to promote harmony and understanding and he deeply regrets expressions of hatred and religious intolerance.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, slammed the U.N. for its role in the incident.

“What was the U.N. doing in the first place holding an anti-drugs conference in partnership with Iran? “ she asked. “Just this year, a general in Iran’s Qods Force was designated a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act for his participation in Afghan heroin trafficking through Iran.”

On Tuesday, in a speech in New York marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov referred to drug use in, and trafficking through, Iran.

“Drug use appears to be spilling over into countries lying on trafficking routes, such as in West and Central Africa, which are witnessing rising numbers of cocaine users, and Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which are grappling with the highest rates of opium and heroin use,” he said.

In 2010, Iran was the elected chair of UNODC’s Vienna-based Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), a body described as the U.N.’s “central policy-making body in drug- related issues.”

Iran has held a seat on the 53-member CND almost permanently since the 1979 Islamic revolution, including the 1984–87 and 1992–2011 periods. Late last year it was elected for a further term, from 2012–15.

Iran also is currently a member of another body falling under UNODC, the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Other U.N. leadership positions held by Iran in recent years include:

-- Chairman in 2009 of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)’s general conference, the 173-member organization’s supreme governing body which approves policies and budget.

-- President of the executive board of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) for 2009.

-- President of the executive board of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) for 2009.

-- Vice-chairman in 2009-2010 of the U.N. General Assembly’s Committee on Information for 2009-2010, a body tasked to promote “the free circulation and wider and better-balanced dissemination of information.”

-- Vice-chairman of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, which deals with legal affairs, for 2009-2010.

-- Member of the 36-country executive board of the U.N. Children’s Fund for 2008-2010.

-- Member of the 25-country advisory committee for the U.N. Program of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, for the 2008-2011 period.

-- Vice-chairmanship in 2007-2008 of the U.N. Disarmament Commission, a body dealing with nuclear and conventional arms reduction, and non-proliferation.

Last year, the U.N. participated in an Iranian government-hosted “International Conference on the Global Fight Against Terrorism” which saw the U.S. and Israel repeatedly condemned. A message from Ban was read out at the event, expressing the hope that the conference would “attain great goals.”

Ros-Lehtinen was scathing about the world body’s relationships with repressive regimes.

“Unfortunately, from North Korea heading its disarmament commission, to Cuba, China, and Russia serving on its Human Rights Council, to three iterations of the anti-Israel Durban conference, serving as a platform for dangerous and hatemongering regimes is business as usual at the U.N.,” she said.

“We must stop the Iranian regime from having the nuclear weapons capabilities to deliver on its hateful goals, and we must stop funneling U.S. taxpayer dollars to a pro-Iran, anti-Israel U.N., and instead demand real reform,” Ros-Lehtinen added.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow