More than 70 members of Congress have called on the United Nations Secretary General to ban Iran from chairing an upcoming conference on disarmament in light of Tehran’s illicit pursuit of nuclear arms.
The bipartisan letter calls on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to remove Iran immediately from its role as host of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, which aims to prevent global nuclear arms races such as the one Iran is currently engaged in.
The conference is scheduled to take place from May 27 to June 23. Many of the lawmakers opposing the forum include high-ranking Republicans and Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs and Middle East committees.
"In what parallel universe could Iran—a world leader in weapons proliferation and terror financing—be taken seriously leading the charge for nuclear disarmament?" Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a chief organizer of the letter, said in a statement. "The Iranian regime’s presence at the Conference eludes comprehension and is an insult to those committed to global non-proliferation efforts."
Lawmakers argued that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear arms and ongoing support for terrorism disqualifies it from presiding over such a sensitive forum. The United States and Canada have already said that they will boycott the forum due to Iran’s presence.
"Iran chairing the U.N Conference on Disarmament undermines the credibility of the United Nations and its effectiveness to resolve dangerous and critical issues," Rep. Gary Peters (D., Mich.), another organizer of the letter, said in a statement.
"It’s outrageous that a country that refuses to abide by any international proliferation agreements—as it continues its own illicit pursuit for nuclear weapons—is chairing a conference on disarmament," Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) a signer of the letter, said in a statement.
Ki-moon should immediately "demand the removal" of Iran from its role as chair of the conference, the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
"By allowing Iran to chair this Conference, the United Nations is legitimizing a tyrannical regime committed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction while delegitimizing the United Nations as a force to contain nuclear weapons," the letter says.
"Indeed, a conference seeking nuclear transparency and disarmament will be led by a country operating a dangerous and convert nuclear program that threatens global instability," the letter says.
A U.N. spokesperson would not comment directly on the letter, telling the Free Beacon "the Conference on Disarmament, sets its own rules and procedures, and its presidency rotates every four weeks in alphabetical order in English."
Asked if the U.N. would respond to Congress, the spokesperson said that "the Conference on Disarmament sets its own rules and procedures; it is not a U.N. body as such."
"The General Assembly stipulated that the Conference adopt its own agenda, taking into account the recommendations made to it by the General Assembly and the proposals presented by the members of the Conference," the spokesperson said.
A representative of the disarmament conference did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to enrich large quantities of uranium and press ahead with its nuclear program despite Western sanctions and condemnations by the United Nations.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported earlier this week that Iran has increased its nuclear enrichment program and has installed hundreds of new centrifuges.
Iran is also believed to be building a new nuclear reactor that could supplement its weapons program and speed its completion, according to the IAEA.