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Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, I come today to share with the Senate a letter which I have written to Ambassador Susan Rice, the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. It is a letter I have written over a grave concern I have over actions that have taken place recently in the United Nations but also reflects back on some things that have happened in the last year or so that are very troubling to me and, quite frankly, very troubling to my constituents.
As I know the Presiding Officer is aware and as all the Senate is aware, the U.N. convened this month in New York a conventional arms trade treaty, where they are looking at an international treaty on limitations and governance over small arms shipment and trade between countries.
I have expressed my concern about the threat to the United States second amendment, our constitutional right to bear arms, and my concern over the U.N. subordinating U.S. law to itself. But I have never ever been as concerned as I am today to find out that Iran has been named, without objection, as a member of the conference that will lead this debate.
I want to talk about it for a few minutes, because a lot of U.N. politics and
U.N. governance and U.N. practices are not understood by the American people. But when the U.N. has one of these conferences working toward a treaty, they will appoint a general conference or a general bureau or a board which is made up of members of the U.N. who will work out the details on the conference and then submit the entire convention to the United Nations.
There is a process in the United Nations where anyone can object to the appointment or to any other motion that may be made on the floor, because the U.N. operates under what is known as consensus, which is the absence of an objection. If there is an objection to a motion that is made, then a vote takes place.
Iran has been seeking a position on this U.N. conference on small arms and arms trade treaty agreement for some time. That has been known.
This is the same Iran the U.N. has sanctioned four times in the last 3 years for its progress on its nuclear arms program and the enrichment of nuclear material. It is the same Iran that as recently as last week the U.N. sent its former chief head president to try to negotiate a settlement on the horrible things that happened in Syria. This is the same Iran that is accused of shipping arms to Syria and to the Asad regime, which has resulted in the killing of over 17,000 Syrians in the last year.
How in anybody's right mind could they allow a country that is in the process of doing that and that has been sanctioned four times by the U.N. to ascend to a position to negotiate a conference on a treaty on small arms on behalf of the U.N?
I have written this letter to Secretary Rice because I have great respect for Ambassador Rice, and I know she is doing a great job. But I cannot understand for the life of me why the United States would not use its right to object to the appointment of a country such as Iran on any treaty, much less one on arms and the Arms Trade Treaty. It reminds me of what happened a year ago when North Korea went on the disarmament committee in the United Nations. Today, Syria is seeking a position on the Human Rights Commission. These types of appointments to people who are often serial violators of the governance of the committee they are trying to seek is laughable and puts the United Nations and the United States in an embarrassing position.
I have written Secretary Rice to find out the answer to this question: Did we have the opportunity to object to Iran being named to the conference? If we did, why didn't we object to that? How in the world can we be expected to have any confidence in what comes out of the conference if, in fact, one of the worst perpetrators in the world is being appointed to the conference? I hope the Secretary will inform me so that I can inform my constituents because, frankly, I cannot explain it.
I have great concern that any U.N. treaty on small arms would, intentionally or unintentionally, affect the second amendment rights of the American people. I am a great supporter of the second amendment, and I have had a concern all along. I signed a letter with Senator Moran from Kansas last week to the Secretary registering my objections and concerns about the threat of that treaty itself, but to find out now that one of the 15 members writing the treaty and negotiating it this month in New York City is the nation of Iran concerns me greater.
I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record my letter to the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, of the United States and New York.
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