Iran Nuclear NewsNPT conference urges Iran to stop enriching uranium

NPT conference urges Iran to stop enriching uranium

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AFP: A conference on fixing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended Friday after overcoming a last-minute snag over Iranian objections to a call for it to stop enriching uranium. by Michael Adler

VIENNA, May 11, 2007 (AFP) – A conference on fixing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended Friday after overcoming a last-minute snag over Iranian objections to a call for it to stop enriching uranium.

A chairman’s summary stated that “serious concern” was expressed at the two-week meeting over Iran’s nuclear programme and that Tehran was “strongly urged to comply” with all the demands of UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions seeking a halt to enrichment activities.

Tehran was also asked to comply with NPT safeguards against the possible spread of nuclear weapons.

Iran objected strongly to being named in the summary and the closing session was delayed for several hours as Japanese chairman Yukiya Amano held closed-door consultations to avoid a collapse in the proceedings, diplomats said.

The summary was finally demoted to a “working paper”, rather than the official rendering of the proceedings, after non-aligned states also objected to it.

But this was a compromise as Iran had wanted the summary banished entirely.

British ambassador John Duncan told AFP the Iranians should have “no illusions that this (conference) was a tremendous blow for them.”

For the first time, “they were isolated in an international forum,” Duncan said.

Western diplomats said the summary still stood as the record of the conference, the first of several meetings to prepare for a formal review in 2010 of the NPT, the world’s basic agreement for the fight against nuclear weapons.

Many complain the 1970 pact is flawed since it allows states to develop technology that has military as well as peaceful uses.

US representative Christopher Ford told reporters it was “gratifying” that the Iranians “have seen fit to back down in the face of a united international community and that’s a step that speaks well for the integrity of the NPT.”

But Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the demoting of the summary was a victory for Tehran. He said the text was less significant since it was now only a presentation of the chairman’s point of view.

The conference had turned into a face-off between Washington, which accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the Islamic Republic, which says it has a peaceful programme to generate atomic power.

Iran had held up the beginning of the meeting for the first six days as it objected but finally yielded to an agenda item calling for full compliance with the NPT.

But Iran did win an explanatory note that compliance should be with “all the provisions” of the treaty and Soltanieh said the Americans had received a “strong message” that they had to honor their pledges on disarmament.

“The message of this conference to be reflected to the whole world is serious concern about the lack of progress and non-compliance by nuclear weapons states paricultarly the United States and the United Kingdom,” with NPT articles calling for moves toward disarmament, Soltanieh said.

Non-aligned states were also opposed to the chairman’s statement becoming the official record as they felt the document failed to reflect their concerns, but they did not back Iran’s desire to have the summary dropped entirely, diplomats said.

“We don’t believe it was a factual document,” Cuban ambassador Norma Goicochea Estenov told reporters.

One problem was the statement’s calling the Additional Protocol to the NPT, which gives the IAEA authority for wider inspections, “an essential and indispensable tool for effective functioning of the IAEA safeguards agreement.”

A non-aligned diplomat said Egypt objected to this, since it wants any call for universal application of this protocol to include Israel, which has not signed the NPT.

The nine-page summary also noted “grave concern” over North Korea’s nuclear programme and its announcement of a nuclear test in October last year.

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