US vs Iran: UNESCO finally takes sides, issues warning

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has waded into the tension between the United States and Iran.

UNESCO said that both the United States and Iran must observe conventions obliging states to protect cultural sites after US President Donald Trump threatened to target Iran’s cultural heritage.Trump on Sunday issued a strong warning to Iran, vowing to hit 52 Iranian sites “very hard” if the Middle East country attacked Americans or United States assets.

His threat came after Iran earlier said it had identified 32 US sites to strike in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.

In another terse response from Iran, multiple rockets were launched near the US embassy in Baghdad Iraq on Sunday.

The move by the US has drawn condemnation from leaders and officials who fear that tensions in the region could escalate drastically.

UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay at a meeting with the Iranian ambassador on Monday said provisions of the 1954 and 1972 conventions, ratified by both the US and Iran, should be observed.

According to Al Jazeera, the conventions says the signatory states should not undertake any deliberate measures that might damage cultural and natural heritage on the territory of other states, party to the conventions.

Azoulay said: “The universality of cultural and natural heritage as vectors of peace and dialogue between peoples which the international community has a duty to protect and preserve for future generations.”

Iran boasts 22 cultural sites and two natural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

The US withdrew from UNESCO in 2019, along with Israel, over accusations of anti-Israel bias.

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