Reuters: Iran and other developing nations on Friday forced a downgrading of the final statement on a review of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, objecting to what they called “imbalance” in a messy end to the meeting.
By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran and other developing nations on Friday forced a downgrading of the final statement on a review of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, objecting to what they called “imbalance” in a messy end to the meeting.
The setback reflected differences between developing and developed nations over the nature of the most serious threats to the 189-nation NPT’s integrity, and cast a cloud over nuclear arms control efforts under the treaty.
Substantive debate was stalled for more than half of the two-week meeting by Iranian objections to an agenda it said gave the West free reign to attack its nuclear program. Diplomats said Iran also took a central role in Friday’s rocky denouement.
They said many developing states felt the chairman’s summary of debate highlighted non-compliance with NPT rules, singling out Iran at the behest of Western powers, more than the treaty obligation of those powers to phase out atomic arsenals.
They also resented a reference that delegations, without saying which, favored making intrusive snap inspections by U.N. inspectors a condition for developing nations to receive nuclear fuel from rich nations for civilian atomic energy.
As a result of their objections the text, instead of being attached to a final report listing procedural decisions and position papers submitted, was relegated to the status of a “working paper” added to 77 others submitted at the gathering.
“We (developing nations in the Non-Aligned Movement, or NAM) agreed the text be reflected as a working paper, just like the other 70 or 80, but not a factual summary as it was not factual or balanced,” said Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh.
“The (greater) message of this conference was deploring the nuclear capabilities of weapons states, their non-compliance with obligations, and of course serious concern over the nuclear capability of (non-NPT member) Israel,” he told reporters.
BROAD MISTRUST TOWARD IRAN
Iran is under U.N. sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, which world powers suspect is a covert atom bomb project behind the facade a civilian nuclear energy program with the billed goal of yielding electricity.
Tehran insist its program is only for peaceful means.
“It was noted that multiple, unanimous (U.N.) Security Council resolutions (against Iran) demonstrate the resolve of the international community on this issue,” the summary of debate by meeting chairman Japan said.
But while the United States, Britain, France and allies targeted Iran’s atomic behavior throughout debate, attention was also devoted to disarmament where the three big powers were challenged by NAM nations for perceived foot-dragging.
“Concern and disappointment were voiced about plans to replace or modernize nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, the increased role of nuclear weapons in strategic and military doctrines, and the possibility of lowering the threshold for use of nuclear weapons,” the summary said.
Washington said Japan’s statement did not adequately voice “the heavy criticism of Iran”. But Western delegations said it was broad enough to launch an annual NPT review cycle leading to a decision-making conference in 2010.
They blamed Iran, not NAM at large, for Friday’s three-hour delay in adopting the summary, saying Tehran originally intended to block consensus even for the summary to be a “working paper” unless all criticism of Tehran was deleted, only to back down.
“This hostage-taking of the conference report was reportedly opposed by almost all of the rest of the NAM, many of whom liked the effective summary of debates on nuclear disarmament. Common sense prevailed,” said disarmament monitor Rebecca Johnson.
Proposals floated for shoring up the NPT included automatic penalties to deter states from leaving the treaty as North Korea did and Iranian radicals say Tehran should do, and a permanent NPT organization able to promptly address proliferation crises.
(additional reporting by Karin Strohecker)