Iran lashes out against US blocking of WTO membership
Iranian state radio in a commentary on Friday, July 20, lashed out at the United States for blocking Iran's application to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). "This is a new sign of US hostility towards Iran," state radio said in the first reaction to Washington's move Wednesday's to keep Tehran out of the WTO.
"America knows that if Iran, which applied for membership a long time ago, is granted entrance to the WTO, it can no longer uphold the sanctions against Tehran," radio said. Tehran's request for membership of the WTO on Wednesday was immediately blocked by the United States, which witheld required approval.
US ambassador to the WTO Linnet Deily told the governing general council her delegation was reviewing the matter and was not yet in a position to respond, WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said.
The US State Department lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. The WTO's general council, its executive body, operates by consensus.
Iran's request, first made in September 1996, only featured on the general council's agenda for the first time in May because of a lack of consensus among the 141 WTO members.
Malaysian Ambassador Supperamaniam, whose country chairs the informal group of developing countries, told the meeting on Wednesday they hoped for a favorable response, Rockwell said.
Malaysia, on behalf of the group, said it would ask for the item to be placed on the agenda at future meetings. The general council is due to meet again in October. Iran said, in a document outlining its request, that for the last several years it has embarked on "an extensive program of reconstruction and development leading to expansion of economic relations and trade with its regional and global partners".
Tehran and Washington broke ties after the 1979 seizure of US embassy staff as hostages by Islamic students, and attempts at rapprochement have been dogged by fierce resentment over US support for Israel. Washington has also imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran.
The 1996 Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) calls for US sanctions to be slapped on international companies that do more than $40 million worth of oil and gas business with either Iran or Libya. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)