NZ leads UN vote on Iran nuclear deal

  • 21/07/2015
Foreign Minister Murray McCully
Foreign Minister Murray McCully

By Peter Mitchell

The United Nations Security Council, led by New Zealand, has unanimously endorsed the recently struck Iran nuclear deal despite staunch opposition from Israel.

The 15-member council agreed sanctions levelled against Iran would be dismantled in exchange for restrictions on it nuclear program.

"Today we mark an opportunity to change the nature of the relationship between Iran and the international community," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, who chaired the meeting at the UN in New York on Monday (local time), told the council.

The 15-0 vote did not prevent the US and Iran trading verbal blows in the council chamber and within minutes the resolution was condemned by the Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor.

"Today you have awarded a great prize to the most dangerous country in the world," Mr Prosor, standing beside a map of the world he described as Iran's empire of terror, told reporters at the UN.

The map had countries, including Thailand, coloured in red that Israel alleged were impacted by Iran's "terror apparatus".

The resolution was expected to pass with all five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council - US, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France - involved in the marathon discussions with Iran in Vienna last week.

New Zealand, one of 10 non-permanent members of the council, assumed the presidency of the council for July.

"By the adoption of this resolution we give international legal force to the agreement reached in Vienna and extend the obligations it contains across the broader UN membership," Mr McCully said.

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the agreement would cut off all pathways for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, put in place a rigorous inspection regime, cut Iran's centrifuges by two-thirds and prevent it from producing weapons grade plutonium.

Ms Power added the US still has "profound concern" for Iran's human rights violations, support for terrorist proxies, threats against Israel and destabilising actions in the region.

Iran's UN Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo described his nation's nuclear program as peaceful and hit back at Ms Power, declaring "reckless acts by the US" were the cause of many challenges today faced in the Middle-East.

"It is ironic that the distinguished ambassador of the US accused my government of destabilising the region and terrorism," he said.

"The country that invaded two countries in our region and created favourable ground for the growth of terrorism and extremism is not well-placed to raise such accusations against my country."

The UN can re-impose penalties if Iran breaches the agreement.