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NPT Draft Obtained Though Restricted to Member States, Western Dips Deceive

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 24 -- Despite promises of transparency for the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference this month, the distribution of the President's Draft of the Final Declaration on Monday night was laughable.

Inner City Press showed up at midnight at the Philippines Mission to the UN on Fifth Avenue and 45th Street, where it was said the draft would be released. A banner was unfurled, along with torches, for a New Zealand nuclear free zone.

But when the Philippines Mission opened the doors at midnight, only state parties were allowed in, and each that appeared was given only a single copy. The Mission had more than enough copies -- Inner City Press witnessed a stack being carried in -- but an attempt was made to exclude the Press and civil society.

After much complaining and persistence, a consultant to a Mission that will remain unnamed agreed to give Inner City Press a copy, a scan of which we are exclusively putting online here.

There has been much posturing. A Sudanese diplomat last week complained that "Western powers" were trying to divide the Non Aligned Movement, portending a total breakdown of the NPT.

On Monday a self-described Western diplomat, high above Manhattan, told the assembled Press that something would pass, but it would be weak. Inner City Press asked about China's nuclear deal with Pakistan. "That is academic," the Western diplomat responded. "Pakistan is not ripe for IAEA inspections."

UN's Duarte with a message, transparency not seen

Later on Monday, among the NGOs, it was said that this Western diplomat's country was in fact the problems. "We lack a solid US commitment," an NGO leader told Inner City Press, "unlike in 2000. It's that Obama has other priorities."

In any event, here as a public service is the draft. Watch this site.

* * *

Outflanked by Iran, Turkey and Brazil, US Rushes Out Sanctions Resolution Speaking of Energy- but China Differs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 18, updated -- As the UN Security Council convened Tuesday at 4 o'clock for the belated distribution to members of the draft Iran sanctions resolution, whether the U.S. had played its cards right was the question of the hour. Vice President Joe Biden had said the resolution would be passed by the end of April. Then other Administration sources said that, out of respect for the complex internal politics of Lebanon, the Council's president for May, it would wait for June.

But Turkey's and Brazil's foray to Tehran, and deal about exchanging uranium with Iran, forced the sanctions proponents' hand. A Turkish diplomat told Inner City Press on May 17, what's the need for sanctions now? It seems clear Turkey will not vote for them, and neither will Brazil.

  Hillary Clinton on Tuesday morning told the Senate that the draft resolution -- agreed to by China and Russia she said -- would be distributed to the non permanent Council members later in the day.

The US Mission to the UN then invited select reporters for a briefing by Ambassador Susan Rice, saying it was embargoed until 4 p.m.. Major foreign correspondents, including from the Middle East, were not invited. Some joked that they must be, in the U.S. view, "non permanent" correspondents.

UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, outflanking not shown

Most opined that if the U.S. got China to agree so quickly, the sanctions must be extremely weak. The appearance of action is perhaps more important at this time than action itself. Watch this space.

Update of 4:25 p.m. -- the new press pen is standing room only, and no TV cameras are allowed to film the entrance of the Ambassadors. As the French go in, Deputy de la Riviere mugs for the crowd: oh la la. Brazil's Ambassador rushes in. There  are predictions of between half an hour and an hour of consultations. The stakeout is ready.

Update of 4:36 p.m. -- a brief descent into substance: some question why Iran would go forward with the uranium swap it agreed with Turkey if the Security Council votes for sanctions at this time. To others this sounds like an argument made in China.

Update of 4:41 p.m. -- a diplomat emerging from the Council tells the Press, it's not really a resolution that they've distributed. Reporters penned in crane to hear. Inside and out, there are translation problems.

Update of 4:51 p.m. -- translation issue explained: a P-5 spokesperson emerges to clarify that the translation equipment did not work. The document (this P-5er IS calling it a draft resolution) was distributed, and a speech began. Then the equipment didn't work.

Update of 4:53 p.m. -- Brazil's Ambassador emerges and says, there is a new situation with the swap. This is the time for negotiations.

Update of 4:57 p.m. -- Brazil's Ambassador speaks to Brazilian TV. Others -- CNN, Al Jazeera -- shout, "to the stakeout please! In English!" But all politics are local.

Update of 5:11 p.m. -- suddenly reporters want to know the name of the Ambassador of Brazil, who's been on the Security Council for five and a half months. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, we hardly knew ye!

Update of 5:24 p.m. - in the lull, there is this ABC "blog" listing elements, quoting a "senior UN official."

Update of 5:57 p.m. -- in serial stakeouts, the Ambassadors of the US, France, UK, Russia and China spoke. The US's Susan Rice spoke of language -- "preambular" -- about investing in Iran's energy sector. She could only two questions, chosen by her spokesman: Al Jazeera and Canadian Broadcasting Corp (some guessed, to make up for a lack of internationalism in their afternoon invites). Inner City Press asked China's Li Baodong if his country would feel constrained against investing in Iran's energy sector by this language. He said that the purpose of sanctions is to bring Iran to the table, not to punish normal people. This apparently means: Chinese investment in Iran's oil sector would continue. Then Li Baodong was gone, an exclusive offered to Xinhua News Service. There will be negotiations "at the expert level" in the coming days. Watch this site.

Update of 6:06 p.m. -- but wait! There's more! Turkey's Ambassador leaves the chamber, and reporters, mostly for Japanese media, follow him up the stairs. He pauses, speaks of "CBM." Some scratch their heads: continental ballistic missiles? No -- it's Confidence Building Measures! Outside it is raining.

* * *

At UN, US on START and 123 Agreement with Russia, Iran Sanctions Link?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 -- With the UN Security Council's discussion of Iran sanctions stalled by this week's trip to the Congo and this month's NPT meetings at the UN, on May 11 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller told the Press there is "no link" between the NEW START treaty with Russia and that country's expected vote for at least some Iran sanctions.

  Inner City Press asked Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller if she acknowledged a link between Iran sanctions and both the Senate's consideration of START and the proposed U.S.-Russia Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation, called the ‘123’ Agreement.

  Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller said that the 123 Agreement is "getting attention in Washington again" and called this a "good step." Of course, she said, the Senate in its advice and consent will look more broadly at the U.S. - Russia relationship. Video here, from Minute 5:37.

  She didn't mean, she said, "no link" but rather "no direct link." She said the START agreement should have an "important" and apparently positive influence, as an implementation of the "reset button" pushed by Hillary Clinton and Sergey Lavrov.

  Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller if she had seen the film "Countdown to Zero." It's on my schedule for next week, she said. Click here for Inner City Press' review.

Rose Gottemoeller and Obama book in Russian, links not shown

Prognosticators on Iran sanctions predict at least two negative votes on the Security Council: Brazil and Turkey. One P-5 member favors waiting to let Brazil and Turkey try to work with Iran, figuring they too will then come to favor sanctions. But the U.S. does not want to wait. We'll see.

Footnote: while the visiting Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller spoke free and easy at the North Lawn building stakeout, getting answers from the US Mission to the UN has become increasingly difficult. On the morning of May 11 as Ambassador Susan Rice entered the Security Council, Inner City Press began to ask for a question about the statement issued in her name the previous day about Sri Lanka.

  She indicated she was busy. Later a genial Mission staffer came to asked what the question was, and said he would go in and get an answer. But leaving the Council he said he'd have to check with the "Sri Lanka people." Hours later in the North Lawn building he again promised an answer. But still as of close of business and deadline, none was provided. Should Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller have been asked?

* * *

At UN, Ahmadinejad Defends Iran's Treatment of Women, Mocks Obama & Ban Ki-moon

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 -- When Iran dropped its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council last month, some described it as restoring at least some credibility to the UN, as when Bosnia stepped in and beat out Belarus for a seat two years ago.

But when Inner City Press asked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Iran's successful replacement candidacy, for a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, despite gender discrimination and repression, Ahmadinejad had a different and lengthy answer.

  He said the switch was procedural, that Iran had always wanted the CSW seat more than the Human Rights Council, which within the Asia Group Pakistan was supposed to run for. Due to a misunderstanding, Ahmadinejad said, Iran temporarily made a grab for the HRC, before returning to the seat promised to it, on the Commission on the Status of Women.

  But how does Iran intend to use the seat, Inner City Press asked, since it has refused to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women? We will never sign that, Ahmadinejad vowed. He went to on paint of picture of "love and complementariness" in Iran.

Women won't do menial jobs in Iran, he said, nothing "like you and me, cleaning the street or driving a truck." He said he had read that 70% of married women in Europe suffer physical abuse, but refuse to complain for fear of losing their families. Women are better off, he concluded, in Iran than in Europe.

UN's Ban and Ahmadinejad, human rights not shown

Ahmadinejad's answers came during a more than one hour long press conference held Tuesday across the street from the UN. The room in the Millennium Hotel was full, with journalists from the Daily News, Washington Post and wires, and even Christiane Amanpour (who was not called on).

The moderator had taken a list of reporters who wanted to ask question, which Inner City Press arrive too late to sign. But having covered Iran's Nowruz receptions -- "be more positive next time," the Iranian mission admonished, leading Inner City Press to ask "or what?" -- the moderator nodded and allowed the question.

In fact, many journalists remarked that Ahmadinejad's press conference was more open and democratic than those of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, or the pre-screened stakeout by Hillary Clinton the previous day. There, the US State Department decided in advance which questions to take. At Iran's event, alongside some very pro Tehran question, questions were taken about for example the reports of North Korean weapons intercepted on their way to Iran.

We don't need weapons from them, Ahmadinejad answered. If America finds and seizes such weapons they can keep them. Regarding Ban Ki-moon, Ahmadinejad said that if the UN were in Tehran and Iran had a Security Council veto, Ban would never have spoken as he did on Monday. Asked repeatedly about sanctions, he said that if they go through, it will mean that US President Obama has "submitted" and been taken control of by a gang. This order, he said, will soon collapse.

But what of those arrested and disappeared after the contested elections? Ahmadinejad did not answer that question, fastening instead on the women's rights part of the question. Whether the Iranian mission will in the future allow such questions to be asked, and even answered, remains to be seen.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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