The U.N. drugs watchdog chief voiced dismay and serious concern in talks with an Iranian envoy Tuesday over claims by the Islamic Republic's vice president that Jews were behind global narcotics trafficking.
Yury Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, called for the meeting with the Iranian diplomat in Vienna after the anti-Semitic comments of Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Fedotov's spokesman said, according to Reuters.
Speaking at a global drug enforcement conference in Tehran last week, Rahimi said the Talmud - or canon of Jewish religious law - teaches them how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother, according to excerpts published by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.
Rahimi also accused Zionists, a term the Iranian government usually applies to Israelis and their Jewish supporters abroad, of inciting drug trafficking.
The controversy came amid rising tensions over Iran's disputed nuclear program, with new European Union sanctions and an oil embargo coming into effect this month.
Archfoes Iran and Israel often engage in fierce verbal attacks against each other. On Sunday, Iran threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the earth if the Jewish state attacked it. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week likened Iran to Hitler's Germany.
Rahimi's June 26 comments at an event marking the U.N.-sponsored International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking drew a sharp response from Israel, which said Iran was governed by fanatical anti-Semites.
At Tuesday's meeting between Fedotov and Iranian charge d'affaires Behnam Bolourian in Vienna, the U.N official pointed out the conference in the Iranian capital was not a United Nations event, his spokesman David Dadge said in statement.
Fedotov, a Russian who is executive director of the Vienna-based U.N. agency, expressed his dismay and serious concern about Rahimi's comments, it said.
A group of Iranian academics in the U.S. also denounced Rahimi's speech, Oye Times, a Canadian publication, reported.
The scholars dismissed Rahimi's comments as baseless allegations and historically inaccurate, morally reprehensible, and politically contrary to the interests of the nation and government of Iran.
It is shameful that these individuals persistently ignore their duties to the people of Iran and become conduits of propagating tired conspiracy theories emanating from idiotic minds, they continued.
Such allegations are certain to add to the risk of crippling embargos and to increase the threat of military attack on Iran.