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The Biden administration aims to remove Iran from a U.N. Commission on women

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

The Biden administration is pushing to remove Iran from the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women. The White House says it's in response to the Iranian government's treatment of women, notably Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman who died in September after she was detained by Iran's so-called morality police. Let's ask Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador, thanks for being here.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you. I'm happy to be with you.

SCHMITZ: So what are you hoping to achieve with this vote?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly, what we want to do is send a strong message to the Iranian regime that what they are doing is unacceptable and that they cannot continue to be in a structure, in an organization that was created to protect women. And secondly, we want to send a message to the Iranian women who've asked us to do this that we support them.

SCHMITZ: Iran's ambassador to the U.N. called this an illegal move and accused the U.S. of trying to use the U.N. to advance its political agenda. What's your response to that?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, the agenda that we have in the U.N. is to protect people around the world. And in this case, it is to send a message to the women of Iran that the organization created to protect women will not allow a country that is actually killing women to be a part of that organization.

SCHMITZ: Now, Iran is not the only nation on this commission with a poor record on women's rights. Pakistan and Somalia are also on the panel, among others. Why single out Iran?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Right now as we speak, Iranian women are being killed in the street. A young man who protested in support of these women, he's been threatened with execution. And so this is what we're working on today. We do know that there are other countries that have issues. And we will continue to push for change in those countries. Afghanistan, for example - Afghanistan is not represented by the Taliban on the commission. So Afghanistan is certainly a country that we need to be focused on. And we are focused - laser focused, in fact - on protecting the women of Iran - of Afghanistan.

SCHMITZ: Now, some diplomats say they're worried that this is a slippery slope, that the U.S. may use more exclusionary tactics within the U.N. and target others. Is that a valid concern?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we have heard those complaints. But, look; this is the right time to do what we're doing as it relates to Iran. And we have made that very, very clear. It's the right thing to do. And I think all of these countries know that this is the right thing to do. And that's my response. We need to do right by Iranian women.

SCHMITZ: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, we appreciate your time this morning.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much. It's great to be here with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.