Japan was on Friday elected to a seat at the UN Security Council for 2009-2010, displacing a bid by Iran for a place at the head table of international diplomacy.
In a vote in the UN General Assembly, which includes all member nations of the world body, Japan took 158 votes against 32 for Iran, the assembly’s president Miguel d’Escoto of Nicaragua said.
Asia has two non-permanent seats on the 15-nation Security Council, on top of the permanent seat held by China. Indonesia’s term is ending; Vietnam’s stint continues through the end of next year.
Among nations in the European group at the UN, Austria and Turkey won non-permanent places on the Security Council, leaving Iceland defeated.
Mexico and Uganda took the seats available for Latin America and Africa respectively without contest.
It will be Japan’s 10th turn on the Security Council since the founding of the UN more than 50 years ago. It is a major contributor to the UN budget and contends it should have a permanent place on a reformed council.
Its bid to join the Security Council was a near certainty, given Japan’s status as an economic powerhouse and the support it enjoyed from around the world, notably in Western countries.
Iran, meanwhile, is under UN sanctions for refusing to comply with Security Council demands to suspend nuclear enrichment, amid fears — denied by Tehran — that it is developing nuclear weapons.
“It’s a comprehensive defeat, a thrashing, and it’s an important signal from the United Nations membership,” British Permanent Representative to the UN John Sawers said.
“Had Iran, by some massive error or misjudgment ... come on the Security Council, it would have obstructed the effective work of the council,” Sawers said.
Deputy US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said: “It’s important for Iran to understand that its refusal to comply with its obligations is reflected in its very poor showing.”
Turkey and Austria won Security Council seats with 151 and 133 votes respectively, with Iceland — badly shaken, by coincidence, by the global financial crisis that brought it near bankruptcy — getting only 87 votes.
Mexico and Uganda secured 185 and 181 votes each, but as they were the only candidates from their respective regions, the outcome represented a show of support from their neighbors.
The newly elected countries will replace Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa from Jan. 1.
Remaining on the Security Council until the end of next year will be Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Libya and Vietnam.
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