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Iran restores UN voting rights after paying dues: Envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Iran has regained its voting rights in the 193-member United Nations General Assembly after paying off some $16.2 million in arrears it owed to the UN operating body.

“After more than 6 months of working on it, the UN today announced it has received the funds,” Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a post on his Twitter account on Friday.

He emphasized that "illegal US sanctions" have led to the delay in settling the debts, saying they had "not just deprived our people of medicine; they have also prevented Iran from paying our dues in arrears to the UN."

"ALL inhumane sanctions must be lifted NOW," the Iranian diplomat added.

Takht Ravanchi’s tweet came after President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir said in a meeting on Friday that Iran has made a partial payment toward the United Nations budget that allowed the country to restore its voting rights.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter," Bozkir said.

Iran is now able to vote in the General Assembly on Friday to elect five new non-permanent members of the UN Security Council for 2022-2023.

In a letter to the General Assembly president on June 2, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Iran would need to pay at least 16,251,298 dollars to have its voting rights restored.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticized the United Nations’ decision to deprive Tehran of its voting rights in the Assembly due to arrears, saying the UN ignores the fact that US sanctions prevent Iran from paying even for food.

“In ‘black is white’ world, UN deprived Iran of its voting rights in the #UNGA as we’re in arrears,” Zarif wrote in a tweet.

According to a statement by the General Assembly, as of January 13, 2021, ten member states were subject to the provisions of Article 19 of the UN Charter, namely Iran, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Libya, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Under Article 19 of the Charter, members whose arrears equal or exceed the amount of their contributions due for two preceding full years lose their voting rights.

The Charter also gives the General Assembly the authority to decide “that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member,” and in that case a country can continue to vote.

In January, Guterres wrote a letter to the rotational head of the General Assembly, noting that the aforementioned 10 countries have lost their right to vote at the Assembly meetings on a temporary basis.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh then said the country has regularly paid its UN membership contributions during past years despite unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran, which have made financial transactions difficult for the Islamic Republic.

A South Korean Foreign Ministry official later in February said his country is finalizing talks with the US on Iran’s payment of its UN membership dues through using some of its frozen assets in South Korea.

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