As expected, heavyweight Japan defeated Iran, which is under Security Council sanctions because its nuclear program, for an Asian seat coming vacant on January 1. Japan had 158 votes from the 192-member assembly and Iran only 32.
In a three-way contest for two European seats, Iceland — an apparent victim of its grave financial crisis — scored 87 votes, well short of the two-thirds majority required. Turkey went through easily and Austria by a narrow margin.
The General Assembly votes once a year for five of the 10 non-permanent seats on the 15-nation council, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers.
The permanent members, which have veto power, are the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.
U.S. and British envoys were exultant about the low vote for Iran. British Ambassador Sir John Sawers said Iran had been "thrashed."