US says Iran ‘on notice’ at Security Council meeting
The U.S. on Friday sought to highlight the importance for the Security Council of ongoing demonstrations in Iran, prompting criticism from some member states who questioned the topic's validity within the institution tasked with maintaining international peace and security.
"Today, the people of Iran are speaking to their government, and their message is undeniable: stop the support for terrorism. Stop giving billions of our money to killers and dictators," the U.S.'s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said during an emergency meeting of the council.
Haley said the Security Council should "amplify the message of the Iranian people", warning that Iran "is now on notice: the world will be watching what you do".
On Dec. 28, thousands of people took to the streets in Iran's northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising inflation, unemployment and perceived government mismanagement.
In the following days, however, the protests appeared to turn into anti-government rallies, spreading to Tehran, Kermanshah, Sanandaj, Zanjan, Ahvaz and Arak provinces.
More than 20 people were killed in the demonstrations, including at least one police officer, while more than a thousand others were detained by authorities.
Russia promptly accused Washington of "abusing" its position within the Security Council by using the forum to discuss the matter, calling it "completely inappropriate" for the council to take up Iran's demonstrations.
"The topic chosen today does not fall within the prerogatives of the" Security Council, Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said.
He said that while Moscow regrets the loss of lives in the protests, Iran should be left to "deal with its own problems".
"We don't want to get involved in destabilizing Iran or any other country," he said.
Iran's UN envoy, who was sitting in on the session despite not being a council member, agreed, calling Friday's session an "abuse of its [the U.S.'s] power as a permanent member, and an abuse of the council itself."
U.K. ambassador Matthew Ryctoft disputed the categorization, however, saying "No one is forcing Iran onto our agenda", and maintaining that Article 34 of the council's charter empowers the council to investigate disputes that may lead to international conflict.
France's UN ambassador Francois Delattre said before the meeting that the international community should "follow a narrow path".
"Yes of course to a necessary vigilance and a call for the full respect of freedom of expression, but no to the instrumentalization of the crisis from the outside because it would only reinforce the extremes, which is precisely what we want to avoid," he said.
On Friday, Iranians held multiple rallies across the country to condemn the U.S. administration's support for recent anti-government protests. One of the largest demonstrations was at Tehran's Imam Khomeini Musalla Mosque, where thousands of protesters blasted the U.S. and chanted anti-U.S. slogans.