Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Nonaligned states set to back Iran at IAEA meeting

By Mark Heinrich

Tuesday, June 13, 2006; 8:27 AM
nuclearn iran- Non-aligned states will back Iran's right to nuclear work at a U.N. meeting this week, unmoved by U.S. calls to add their weight to efforts to get Tehran to stop enriching uranium, diplomats said.

U.N. Security Council powers offered Iran a package of incentives last week and Washington has nudged Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states to endorse it at the session of the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board under way at a critical juncture, with Iran still considering the proposals.

A NAM vote of confidence would help the United States and the European Union deflect Iranian assertions that it is being bullied by a small group of powerful countries bent on stunting the Islamic Republic's development by denying it nuclear energy.

Diplomats from the NAM, whose 114 members span almost all developing states including Iran and comprise two-thirds of the United Nations, said the group would reissue a declaration backing Iran it made in Malaysia on May 30.

"We expect to refer to the NAM ministers statement and quote from it. We won't make a new statement referring to the current (big power) proposal or make supportive noises in this regard," said a NAM diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"NAM does not want to pronounce on a proposal that basically no one knows full details about," the diplomat added.

Elements of the package of trade and technology sweeteners offered to Iran by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have been leaked by Western diplomats. They include unspecified penalties should Iran rebuff the offer.

NAM countries have long been concerned that making Iran abandon its nuclear fuel enrichment program would set a precedent that could prevent other developing states pursuing an atomic energy option to boost their economies.

They strictly oppose any resort to sanctions as mooted by the West, seeing no justification so long as Iran has not been proved to be using enrichment technology to build atom bombs in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

HID RESEARCH

Iran says its nuclear fuel drive is intended to make electricity. The West suspects a disguised atom bomb project and cites a threat to peace since Tehran hid enrichment research from the IAEA for almost 20 years and has called for Israel's destruction.

The 35 countries on the IAEA board, 15 of them from NAM, were due to take stock of the Iran dispute in a debate on Wednesday.

An IAEA board vote in February to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for action was joined by most NAM members after heavy lobbying from Western diplomats.

However, two influential NAM giants, South Africa and Indonesia, abstained, demonstrating continued misgivings in the developing world about singling out Iran.

The May 30 NAM declaration did not criticize Iran's nuclear efforts and said it was cooperating with the IAEA, although the agency has said Tehran continues to impede inquiries into the nature of its program and has barred short-notice IAEA inspections designed to expose undeclared atomic work.

The NAM statement stressed the "basic and inalienable right of all states" to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

NAM members include all of Washington's most prominent adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, two countries on President George W. Bush's "axis of evil," as well as Cuba and Venezuela.

U.S. officials said on Monday NAM states were being asked to support the big powers' initiative in the IAEA debate and urge Iran to enable a diplomatic solution by shelving enrichment.

"Support for a fair negotiated solution is part of our position, which we'll keep here," another NAM delegate said.

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, warned the board to avoid "politically motivated statements that could spoil the environment" for a diplomatic solution.

Tehran has said it is seriously considering the batch of incentives and that it contains positive points. However, it said the package also has problems, a reference to the precondition that Iran stop all enrichment efforts, which it has ruled out.

© 2006 Reuters
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

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