Chancellor Angel Merkel seeks Security Council seat, sanctions against Iran

26th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 September 2007, New York (dpa)- German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed Germany's efforts to gain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council while warning Tuesday that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons could have "devastating consequences."

26 September 2007

New York (dpa)- German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed Germany's efforts to gain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council while warning Tuesday that allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons could have "devastating consequences."

Merkel used her first-ever address before the UN General Assembly Tuesday evening to relaunch Germany's bid for a Security Council seat, saying that after more than 24 years of talk about reforming the UN's top body, it was time for action.

"Germany is prepared, with the adoption of a permanent Security Council seat, to take more responsibility," Merkel said. "With its current composition, the Security Council no longer reflects the world of today."

Merkel also threatened tougher sanctions if Tehran refused to suspend its nuclear programme and continued to make threats against Israel, only hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the very same chamber that he considered the nuclear issue "closed."

"If Iran gained possession of a nuclear weapon, that would have devastating consequences," she said.

Merkel emphasized the importance of the United Nations as a place where "collective answers to global challenges" can be found. One of those challenges is reforming the Security Council.

Germany's last effort to get a permanent seat collapsed two years ago, as part of a joint bid with Brazil, India and Japan. Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, had told the General Assembly in a 2003 address of Germany's aspirations for a seat.

Only five countries - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - have had permanent seats on the Security Council and the power to veto all resolutions since the UN's inception more than 60 years ago. There are 10 non-permanent seats on the council, which rotate among member countries elected for two-year terms.

In Europe, Italy resisted Germany's bid for a permanent seat two years ago, and the US also refused to support the effort during a time of tense relations stemming from Germany's opposition to the Iraq war.

In his own speech to the assembly Tuesday, Bush said he was "open" to the possibility of expanding the Security Council and that "emerging powers" should be considered. But he mentioned only Japan by name.

The German government hopes that the situation has since changed in its favour. A possible compromise being floated is that Germany would take a seat for 10 years.

Merkel had strong words for Iran's Ahmadinejad and spoke of a historical reponsibility for Germany to protect Israel's right to exist.

"It is not the world which must prove that Iran is building an atomic bomb. Iran must convince the world that it does not want the atomic bomb," Merkel said.

Merkel threatened tougher sanctions against Iran if the regime did not change course, but she would not be more specific on what those penalties might include. German officials said they were considering a series of economic measures.

The German chancellor warned that another world threat, climate change, could provoke "global conflict" if left unchecked.

"Never before was the understanding among scientists so high, the facts so clear, the need for action so undisputed," she said. "Every country is affected by the consequences of climate change."

Hours before her first address at the UN as Germany's chancellor, Merkel was given the World Statesman Prize by the Appeal for Conscience, a New York-based foundation that works for religious freedom.

DPA

Subject: German news

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