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European nations urged to boycott U.N. disarmament body chaired by Iran

THE HAGUE (JTA) — A Dutch group monitoring rights in Iran urged the Netherlands and other European nations to join the United States and Canada in boycotting a U.N. forum on disarmament that will be chaired by Tehran.

Iran’s chairmanship of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament “comes at the expense of the United Nations’ credibility as a body meant to safeguard global safety,” the Hague-based Iran Comite wrote to Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans on Thursday.

Hillel Neuer of the Geneva-based nonprofit UN Watch also called on France, Germany and Britain to boycott the forum. He said Iran’s chairmanship “is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter.”

A meeting in New York in April was meant to breathe new life into the the Conference on Disarmament, established in 1979 but inactive for the past 15 years. However, the fresh start was mired in controversy when it emerged that Iran will become the conference’s chairman through what U.N. officials called an automatic rotation system among the forum’s 65 member states.

Earlier this week, the United States and Canada said they would boycott the body for the duration of the five-week chairmanship of Iran, which begins May 27.

“The Dutch government should boycott the Conference on Disarmament for as long as Iran heads it and should urge other countries to do the same,” read the letter by the Iran Comite, a watchdog group made up of former Dutch politicians, Kurds, Iranian opposition figures, gay rights activists and Jews.

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