Saturday, August 2, 2008

US says Iran fails to win much NAM support on nuclear issue

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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US says Iran fails to win much NAM support on nuclear issue

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Iran has failed to win much support for its disputed nuclear drive from its friends in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), US officials alleged Friday.

State Department officials showed reporters in Washington two statements they said they obtained from unidentified NAM members at a ministerial meeting in Tehran to highlight points Iran had added and NAM deleted.

A draft statement, for example, had a phrase that NAM ministers "affirmed that Iran as a state party to the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty).... has the right to have its fuel cycle program for peaceful purposes."

But the phrase was deleted in a later statement.

The draft seen by reporters also read that "the ministers are of the view that sanctions imposed on Iran for its nuclear program are of political nature and should be promptly removed.

"They further affirm that with increased cooperation of Iran with the agency to resolve all remaining issues about its past and present nuclear activities the issue of Iranian nuclear program should be solely dealt with within the agency framework and there is no legal basis that the UN Security Council proceeds in this regard," according to the draft.

But that passage was deleted in the later statement -- something US officials said was a rebuff to Iran's attempt to deal only with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and avoid a role for the UN Security Council.

"It's a black eye for Iran," a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

"The (UN) Security Council has been clear on Iran's obligations. The IAEA has been clear that Iran has not been transparent," he said.

"And now they can't even get their friends from the NAM to come out in support of their interpretation of their program. It actually reinforces just how isolated they are," he told reporters.

The official would not say which members failed to back Iran but expected strong allies Cuba and Belarus to have supported Tehran.

Nor would he predict whether the NAM meeting could prompt Iran to change its stance in talks with the United States and other world powers which are demanding Iran halt its uranium enrichment program.

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