Austria, Turkey win Security Council election

Saturday, October 18, 2008

UNITED NATIONS -- Japan handily defeated Iran for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and Austria and Turkey edged out Iceland in secret ballot voting Friday.

Iran, which is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear program, received only 32 votes from the U.N. members, losing the Asian seat to Japan, which received 158 votes.

Austria and Turkey beat Iceland in the battle for two nonpermanent European seats on the 15-member council in voting at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

The Security Council is the powerhouse of the U.N. with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers.

The other two seats went to Mexico, which will represent Latin America, and Uganda, which will represent Africa; both ran unopposed.

General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said after the balloting that Austria received 133 votes, Turkey 151 votes, Uganda 181 votes and Mexico 185. Iceland, which had been considered by many to be a strong candidate until the recent economic crisis, received only 87 votes.

Candidates are required to get a two-thirds majority from members to win a seat.

"It's a disappointment for us not to get more votes because like other countries, we have gotten a lot of promises that have not been kept," said Iceland's Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, adding she "wholeheartedly" congratulated Austria and Turkey for their victory.

U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Iran's failure to gain an significant number of votes should serve as a message.

"It's encouraging and important for Iran to understand that its continued violation of international binding resolutions of the Security Council is reflected in this very poor showing," he said.

"Hopefully they will understand that this means that there is no support from the international community for that type of behavior," Wolff said.

In September, the council unanimously approved a new resolution reaffirming previous sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment program.

The five new nonpermanent members of the council will serve two-year terms.

Ten of the council's 15 seats are filled by the regional groups for two-year stretches. The other five are occupied by its veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The five countries elected to the council will take their seats on Jan. 1, 2009, replacing Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa. The five countries elected last year -- Libya, Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica and Croatia -- will remain on the council until Jan. 1, 2010.

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