Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Bahman Kalbasi of BBC Persia

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 14, 2022


QUESTION: Madam Ambassador, thank you for doing this. What is the message that was sent today here at the commission, at the Economic and Social Council?

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: (Inaudible) This Commission was created to support women, protect women, and they sit there while they are attacking women. So, it was a loud message, and I think they (inaudible).

QUESTION: You did talk about a stain, the presence of the Islamic Republic in the Commission. What – why is it a stain? (Inaudible.)

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The Commission is to protect women. You don’t want an entity in the Commission that is not protecting women. The Iranian government is not a protector of women. Women are being killed on the streets today, and men who are supporting them are being killed on the streets today. Young women who wanted to have a future are not here to have a future again. So, for me, that is a stain in the Commission, and it is really important that we not allow Iran to use the Commission to give itself legitimacy and credibility when we know they don’t have legitimacy and credibility as it relates to the women of Iran.

QUESTION: We were speaking last time – it was exactly in the same hour that Vice President Harris issued a statement saying that the United States will – started a campaign removing Iran from the Commission. How has these weeks been? Was it difficult to get countries to support this plan, to move and vote? Or was it already there because of what they had seen in the streets of Iran with the women? Was it the activism of the Iranian women here in the United States?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The activism had an impact, because the women who were protesting here and advocating for this decision here engaged with all of us. They engaged with the United States, and we heard them loudly and clearly; they engaged with other countries and encouraged other countries to support.

So, I won’t say it was easy, because this is something that’s never been done before. And so, it required a tremendous amount of effort on our part, as well as on the parts of other governments who supported us.

QUESTION: And what is the next step? We heard some of your allies in the Council saying, “Stop talking about JCPOA, that should be declared dead,” or whether there are other steps that can be taken in the United Nations. Where does U.S. government come down on those very specific issues, whether JCPOA is now dead or whether that can still continue? And what are the steps that can be taken in the UN?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Let me say this was not about JCPOA. This was about what is happening on the ground to women right now as we speak in Iran. It has a – we think we sent a strong message, and JCPOA is a whole separate discussion, and those discussions are not taking place right now.

QUESTION: And the steps that can be taken in the UN beyond this, what would those be?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are continuing to look for other opportunities to ensure that we do not allow Iran to have legitimacy as it relates to women on the ground. As you know, the Human Rights Council has a team going in to investigate the situation on the ground right now, and we supported that effort. Countries who are members have sanctioned Iran, as we have, and we’re coordinating with countries who continue to sanction Iran as they continue their negative and really devastating actions against the people, and particularly the women of Iran.

And this was a historic day. It was an absolute historic day. Iranian women asked, and we delivered.

QUESTION: I was going to ask as a last question: What is your message to the Iranian women who might say, “Wait, but what does this materially change for us?” They are still oppressed; they’re still getting shot at.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They asked for this, and we heard them, and we’re continuing to hear them. I think it gives them a sense of courage and a sense of empowerment, and we will continue to look for other ways to support them on the ground.

QUESTION: Ambassador, thank you.