Reuters: Non-aligned nations rejected on Tuesday any “interference” in Iran’s nuclear transparency deal with U.N. inspectors, in a rebuff to the United States and European Union. By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA (Reuters) – Non-aligned nations rejected on Tuesday any “interference” in Iran’s nuclear transparency deal with U.N. inspectors, in a rebuff to the United States and European Union.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of developing nations endorsed the deal during debate on Iran at a gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors.
Western powers said the deal diverts attention from U.N. Security Council demands that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and grant broader inspections to defuse mistrust over its nuclear intentions.
The West fears Iran wants to make nuclear bombs while Tehran insists its program is aimed solely at electricity production.
A draft of an EU statement prepared for debate dwelled on Iran’s defiance of Security Council resolutions and played down its pledge to answer questions about past, hidden nuclear work.
Ambassador Norma Goicochea Estenoz of Cuba, current chairman of NAM, summarized the group’s position to reporters before the closed debate by saying it rejected “undue pressure or interference” in the IAEA’s contacts with Iran.
She was alluding to suggestions by Washington and some close allies that Iran bulldozed inspectors into an unbalanced deal.
The August 21 “work plan” commits Iran to answer five-year-old IAEA questions one by one over a rough timeline of a few months, while leaving untouched Tehran’s expanding enrichment work.
“NAM believes this work plan is a significant step forward, as the (IAEA) director general (Mohammed ElBaradei) said himself,” Goicochea said. “We believe it will facilitate negotiations between Iran and other concerned parties toward a peaceful solution to the so-called Iran nuclear issue.”
“We would like to highlight that in this respect there should be non-interference in the work … and professionalism of the director-general and secretariat (inspectors). We reject any undue pressure or interference … in this matter.”
The 115-nation NAM groups most developing countries including Iran and has about a dozen members on the IAEA’s board, which makes decisions based on consensus.
Iran has few staunch allies in NAM — Cuba, Syria, Bolivia and Venezuela, all foes of Washington. Many NAM members have become disenchanted with Iranian intransigence.
The U.S. and close EU allies have softened criticism of the Iran-IAEA pact to avoid a damaging split on the board, lending weight to Iranian arguments that it is being bullied by a few big powers seeking confrontation over peaceful solutions.
Washington has said it and many board members would seek quicker replies to questions Iran could have resolved long ago.
ElBaradei defended the pact on Monday by countering Iran’s announcement that its nuclear dossier was now “closed”.
For that to happen, he said, it was indispensable for Iran to permit broader inspections and suspend enrichment activity.
The U.N. has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. The transparency deal irked Washington by stalling its push to isolate Iran with tougher sanctions.
Iran won the reprieve by threatening to exclude the IAEA if Security Council pressure intensified, diplomats said.