Stop Helping the UN Help Iran

No more bankrolling UN corruption, abuses and other outrages that aid Iran and other rogue regimes. Instead of the UN allowing Iran and its cronies to wield power in numerous UN bodies, which they use to protect themselves and advance their dangerous agendas, the U.S. and other responsible nations should use our strongest leverage —our funding — to stop the madness.

The Iranian regime told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week that Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used for a nuclear weapons capability. Another Iranian official admitted that Tehran has repeatedly lied about its nuclear activities to the IAEA. And a recent IAEA report shows that Iran continues to obstruct investigations into its nuclear program, while doubling the number of centrifuges enriching uranium that can be used for nuclear weapons.

Despite these dangerous Iranian activities, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was welcomed at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to spew out another anti-America, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirade. Already, during a UN High Level meeting on Rule of Law that Tehran was invited to, Ahmadinejad called for Israel’s elimination.

But that’s only one way the UN benefits Iran. Iran’s allies, China and Russia, use their perches on the UN Security Council to delay, water down, and prevent pressure on the Iranian regime. The UN also allows Iran and its cronies to wield power in numerous UN bodies, which they use to protect themselves and advance their dangerous agendas.

The list of Iran’s roles in the UN is long. Despite the fact that it stones women to death for “adultery,” Iran is on the board of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Iran was most recently named to serve on a committee to negotiate a UN arms trade treaty, and has served as Vice Chair of the UN’s Disarmament Commission, despite its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

But it gets worse: Iran actually benefits materially from its involvement in UN bodies. A 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the IAEA has provided tens of millions of dollars in technical assistance to Iran and other rogue regimes. The IAEA, which on the one hand is supposed to document Iran’s illicit nuclear activities, is using the other hand to provide aid that can advance Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

The GAO found that the IAEA “does not attempt to exclude countries on the basis of their status as U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism or other political considerations” and that “there are no good countries and there are no bad countries” when it comes to the IAEA’s provision of technical cooperation. In short, as the IAEA noted, “given the limited information available on [technical cooperation] projects and the dual-use nature of some nuclear technologies and expertise, we do not believe [the State Department] can assert with complete confidence that [such] assistance has not advanced [weapons of mass destruction] programs in U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism.”

Contributions to the IAEA should not be used to support assistance to countries that support extremists and are in breach of non-proliferation treaties and resolutions. Legislation I have introduced seeks to stop this absurdity.
But UN complicity in aiding and abetting pariah states such as Iran doesn’t stop there. Most recently, it was revealed that the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization provided computers and other sensitive technology to Iran and North Korea. This UN entity - entrusted with protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) - shared U.S. equipment and technology without authorization to regimes where respect for IPR is non-existent.

The fundamental problem with the UN is that those who are calling the shots don’t have to pay the bills. Most UN member nations pay next to nothing yet are empowered by the UN bureaucracy to further their nefarious agendas. So long as the U.S. and other responsible nations keep sending their assessed contributions to the UN, no questions asked, there is zero incentive for reform.

By contrast, switching to an all-voluntary funding structure would prevent contributions to the UN from supporting initiatives that undermine peace and security and run counter to core democratic values.
UN entities funded primarily by voluntary contributions usually conduct more responsible and effective operations.

As Catherine Bertini, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Management, and director of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), said, “Voluntary funding creates an entirely different atmosphere at WFP than at the UN. At WFP, every staff member knows that we have to be as efficient, accountable, transparent, and results-oriented as possible. If we are not, donor governments can take their funding elsewhere.”

No more bankrolling UN corruption, abuses, and other outrages that aid Iran and other rogue regimes. It is long-past time for the U.S. and other responsible nations to use our strongest leverage—our funding—to stop the madness.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 18th congressional district and has been Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee since 2011.



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