Iran and Iceland Fail to Win U.N. Security Council Seats

Iran, a country under U.N. sanctions, and Iceland, which has been battered by the recent credit crisis, failed Friday to win nonpermanent seats on the powerful U.N. Security Council.

Austria and Turkey beat Iceland in the battle for the two nonpermanent European seats on the 15-member council in voting at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly while Iran lost out to Japan for the council's Asian seat.

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.

In the secret ballot, candidates were required get a two-thirds majority of members voting.

General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said after the balloting that Austria received 133 votes, Turkey 151 votes, Japan 158 votes, Uganda 181 votes and Mexico 185.

Iran received only 32 votes from the U.N. members, Iceland, which had been considered by many to be a strong candidate until the recent economic crisis, received only 87 votes.

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.