Iran unrest divides UN Security Council meeting

In Iran, tight budget sparks nationwide protests

The United Nations Security Council rebuffed the United States to use the protests in Iran as an excuse to undermine the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley pushed for the meeting of the top United Nations body, arguing the unrest could escalate into full-blown conflict and drawing a comparison with Syria.

Iranian émigrés also staged numerous antigovernment demonstrations in front of Iranian embassies around the world during the weekend - including The Hague, Berlin and Hamburg, Stockholm, London, and Paris.

France's Francois Delattre said that although he was "alarmed" by the acts of violence on the streets of Iran, they did not pose an worldwide threat to peace and security and so were not really a matter for the Security Council.

But Moscow stopped short of seeking to block the meeting. On Friday, January 5, pro-regime rallies were taken out at many places.

In a rebuke to Iranian government claims that the widespread demonstrations had been organized and/or instigated by foreigners, a group of 16 prominent reformist figures living in Iran issued a statement rejecting that claim.

Several countries on the Security Council have blocked or attempted to prevent meetings focused on internal or domestic affairs of United Nations member states in the recent past. "Let Iran deal with its own problems", said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. On Thursday, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five Iran-based entities related to a key elements of Iran's ballistic missile program, which U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Iranian regime "prioritizes over the economic well-being of the Iranian people".

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"And I call on the government of Iran to stop censoring the voice of the people and to restore the access to the internet".

More than a week of unrest has seen 22 people die and more than 1,700 arrested.

Envoys from several other countries - from China to newcomer Equatorial Guinea - also expressed reservations about whether the council was the right forum for the issue.

"However worrying the events of the last few days in Iran may be they do not constitute per se a threat to global peace and security", Ambassador Francois Delattre said.

Iran's Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo slammed the meeting as a "farce" and a "waste of time" and said the council should instead focus on addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the war in Yemen.

Some Iranians blame reformist President Hassan Rouhani for Iran's woes, saying he's failed to deliver the jobs and foreign investment promised by the 2015 nuclear deal, which relaxed worldwide sanctions.

This month, Mr Trump will again have to choose whether to continue to waive sanctions, as the deal requires, or chart a more confrontational approach that would further antagonise European allies. "Another FP blunder for the Trump administration", Zarif tweeted on Friday.

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