Photo Credit: Paulo Filgueiras/U.N. Photo
Robert Wood, deputy permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations, briefs reporters after the closed Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East on Oct. 8, 2023.

Members of the U.N. Security Council, including the United States, observed a minute of silence on Monday in memory of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Footage posted on social media showed the body’s 15 representatives rising to honor the memory of the leader, known as the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in the 1988 execution of 30,000 political prisoners.

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The video shows Robert Wood, deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, joining in the minute of silence alongside representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea and Slovenia.

Ambassador Pedro Comissário Afonso, who holds the presidency of the Security Council on behalf of Mozambique, had asked that “all those present now stand and join in observing a minute of silence in remembrance of the loss of life in the helicopter crash of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, the minister of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and all passengers, and to present its condolences and sympathy to their families and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The request for a moment of silence was made by Russia, China, Algeria and “on behalf of the members of the Security Council,” he said.

“The Security Council has simply become a danger to world peace,” said Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, in response to the event.

“You saw [it] correctly: The U.N. Security Council dedicated a moment of silence in memory of the mass murdering president of Iran, Raisi. What a disgrace. This council, which has taken no real steps to advance the release of our hostages, bowed its head for a man responsible for massacring and murdering thousands—in Iran, in Israel and around the globe,” Erdan said in a video statement posted to X.

“What’s next: Will the Council dedicate a moment of silence to commemorate Hitler?” he added.

Also on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller conveyed Washington’s “official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran.

“As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Miller.

Former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blamed U.S. sanctions for causing Raisi’s death, Iran International reported on Monday.

“One of the culprits behind yesterday’s tragedy is the United States, because of its sanctions that bar Iran from procuring essential aviation parts,” Zarif told state television.

Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in the country’s northwestern East Azerbaijan province, Iranian regime media confirmed on Monday morning, 16 hours after contact with the aircraft was lost.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, the regime’s representative in East Azerbaijan and Malek Rahmati, the province’s governor, were also killed.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei confirmed on Monday that First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber would temporarily take charge of the executive branch and has up to 50 days to hold elections, Tehran’s IRNA outlet reported. Khamenei also declared five days of mourning.

Raisi was elected president in 2021. The hardline leader had repeatedly called for the destruction of the State of Israel, saying in January that “peace talks were of no use, the end of Israel is inevitable.”

Raisi said that “Palestine” was the world’s top priority and emphasized that “resistance” was the only option against the Jewish state.

An Israeli official told Reuters that Jerusalem was not involved in the incident. There has been no official Israeli reaction.

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