AFP: A UN non-proliferation conference failed to break a deadlock Monday as the Iranian ambassador awaited instructions from Tehran on whether to accept a compromise over the issue of compliance. VIENNA, May 7, 2007 (AFP) – A UN non-proliferation conference failed to break a deadlock Monday as the Iranian ambassador awaited instructions from Tehran on whether to accept a compromise over the issue of compliance.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh said “he had consulted with his government and an answer will come tomorrow (Tuesday)” to a South African proposal to adopt a text to ease Iran’s fears of being the target of a call for compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a non-aligned diplomat told AFP.
The two-week meeting has been blocked since opening a week ago as Iran, which the United States charges is secretly developing the atomic bomb, is stopping consensus on an agenda item that calls for “full compliance” with the NPT, the basic agreement for the fight against the spread of nuclear weapons.
A European diplomat said however that Iran was using this excuse “to play with the whole conference.”
And William Potter, a US analyst who is also a delegate here, said the procedural issues Iran has raised were “death by 2,000 tiny blows” to the conference of 130 states from the 189-nation NPT.
“Iran has problems already at the IAEA (the UN nuclear watchdog which has cited Tehran for non-compliance with the NPT) and the UN Security Council (which has imposed sanctions on Iran for enriching uranium) and they are not anxious to add to that list,” Potter said.
“Iran does not want to see this body on record in any fashion condemning Iran’s non-compliance,” Potter said.
The conference is the first of a series preparing for a 2010 review conference on amendments to the NPT, which many feel needs to be reinforced in order to handle the nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea.
The stand-off here, with debate blocked, is the worst at any NPT meeting since the treaty went into effect in 1970, diplomats said.
Conference chairman Yukiya Amano had tried Friday to assure Iran that it was not the object of the agenda item calling for full compliance with the pact.
Amano refuses to change the agenda, saying it was already a delicate compromise.
A collapse in the conference Friday was avoided when non-aligned state South Africa proposed the adoption of an explanatory text saying that disarmament as well as compliance with NPT rules against diverting peaceful nuclear uses to military ends would be discussed.
Amano said he had held consultations over the weekend and the “outcome is that more time is needed to address this issue again.”
He said that if substantive discussion continued to be blocked the conference would move on to set the date and place of the next preparatory meeting, to be held in 2008.
Western diplomats said Iran wanted to avoid any decisive recommendations being reached in a chairman’s summary that would follow a debate on specific issues.
Iran feels it is being singled out as it is currently defying UN Security Council calls for Tehran to rein in its nuclear ambitions, and is in fact expanding its program despite sanctions from the Council.
Soltanieh argues that emphasising compliance with all NPT provisions would push states possessing nuclear weapons to keep their promises on disarmament, rather than having the meeting just criticize Iran over violations of the treaty’s nuclear safeguards.
Iran is isolated as most non-aligned states and Western powers accept the agenda. Only Syria and Venezuela back Iran’s objections to the agenda.