January 5, 2018 / 11:53 PM / in 2 months

U.N. meeting on Iran protests called by U.S. criticized at Security Council

(This January 5 story was corrected to change context of comments by Iran’s UN ambassador as referring to “recent violence in Iran” instead of “recent protests in Iran,” paragraph 8.)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss recent protests in Iran turned into criticism of the United States for requesting to meet on what some member states said was an internal issue for Tehran.

France’s ambassador to the UN said the protests do not threaten international peace and security, in what may be an implicit criticism of the United States.

“As worrisome as they may be, developments in recent days do not pose a threat to international peace and security,” Ambassador Francois Delattre said.

“We must respond appropriately, that is, with all the vigilance required by the risks of violence against peaceful demonstrators, while avoiding any manipulation of this crisis, which would only reinforce the extremes and thus have the opposite of the effect we are seeking.”

Demonstrations erupted in Iran over a week ago after the government announced plans to raise fuel prices and cut monthly cash handouts to lower-income Iranians. The unrest spread over 80 cities and towns and has resulted in 22 deaths and more than 1,000 arrests, according to Iranian officials.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said Iran is “on notice,” after listing what she referred to as slogans chanted by Iranian protesters.

“The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years,” said Haley, adding that the United States stood “unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation. We will not be quiet. No dishonest attempt to call the protesters ‘puppets of foreign powers’ will change that.”

Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo told the Security Council that his government has “hard evidence” that recent violence in Iran was “very clearly directed from abroad.”

Khoshroo also said the United States had abused its power as a permanent member of the Security Council by calling for a meeting to discuss the protests.

“It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current U.S. administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate,” he said.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the United States was abusing the Security Council’s platform and the meeting was an attempt to use the current Iranian situation to undermine the Iran nuclear deal, which the U.S. administration opposes.

Discussing the domestic situation of Iran at the council “does not help resolve the domestic issue of Iran,” said China’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wu Haitao.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by James Dalgleish

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