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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UN meeting on Iran protests called by US criticised at Security Council

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 US

The UN Security Council met on the situation in Iran on January 5, 2018 at UN headquarters. Mary Altaffer / AP
The UN Security Council met on the situation in Iran on January 5, 2018 at UN headquarters. Mary Altaffer / AP

A UN Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss recent protests in Iran turned into criticism of the US 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 US.

"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."

Read more: US and agree on Iran regime's failure to serve people

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 US ambassador to the UN, 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 Ms Haley, adding that the US 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".

Read more: Iran protests were not just about economy, Rouhani says in dig at hardliners

Iran's UN ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo told the Security Council that his government has "hard evidence" that recent protests in Iran were "very clearly directed from abroad".

Mr Khoshroo also said the US 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 US 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 US 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 US administration opposes.

Discussing the domestic situation of Iran at the council "does not help resolve the domestic issue of Iran", said China's deputy UN ambassador Wu Haitao.