Iran Nuclear News Iran maintains hard line at UN nuclear conference

Iran maintains hard line at UN nuclear conference

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AFP: The chairman of a stalled UN conference on strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) tried Friday to assure Iran it was not the target of an agenda item calling for full compliance with the pact. VIENNA, May 4, 2007 (AFP) – The chairman of a stalled UN conference on strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) tried Friday to assure Iran it was not the target of an agenda item calling for full compliance with the pact.

But the Iranian ambassador held to objections that have deadlocked the two-week meeting since it opened on Monday.

The chairman, Japanese ambassador Yukiya Amano, convened the conference briefly Friday, and said he would not change the draft agenda which reaffirms the need for “full compliance” with the NPT.

However, Amano added that “full compliance” should be understood to mean compliance with “all” NPT provisions — even if he declined to change the wording thus, as demanded by Iran.

Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters that Amano’s statement “was not enough” and insisted that the agenda text be revised.

Tehran argues that emphasising compliance with all NPT provisions would push nuclear weapons states to keep their promises on disarmament, rather than just criticize Iran over violations of the treaty’s nuclear safeguards.

Iran feels it is being singled out as it is currently defying UN Security Council calls for it to suspend uranium enrichment, and is in fact expanding its nuclear program despite Council sanctions.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons but Tehran insists that it wants only to produce energy for civilian use.

Amano said the agenda remained “the best compromise” for the meeting.

The conference is the first of a series preparing for a 2010 review conference on fixes for the treaty, which is the world’s fundamental document against the spread of nuclear weapons.

Diplomats are concerned that the Vienna meeting could collapse due to the same procedural wrangling that marred the last review conference in New York in May 2005.

Amano cut the morning meeting short and the conference was to reconvene later Friday, as Soltanieh waits for instructions from Tehran, a senior Europen diplomat said.

“Iran is trying to undermine this conference, this treaty, because they understand that the treaty will be an occasion to blame them,” a second European diplomat said.

The diplomat said Iran had other objections, such as not wanting the conference to discuss penalties for states which withdraw from the NPT, and was not in fact ready to agree to even a revised agenda.

Soltanieh said Iran wanted the meeting to go forward but did not want a precedent set of focusing on Iran’s face-off with the United Nations.

Disarmement analyst Rebecca Johnson said the Iranian objections to wording were a “semantic quibble (which) is nonsensical.”

Iran is isolated as both non-aligned states and Western powers accept the agenda but a consensus is needed from the 130 states attending the conference on the 189-nation NPT.

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