Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Non - Aligned States Support Iran Nuclear Position

The New York Times:
The world's non-aligned states are likely to throw their weight behind Iran in its nuclear stand-off with the West, according to a draft statement prepared on Tuesday for a meeting in Malaysia.

The 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is expected later on Tuesday to adopt the draft text, which makes no criticism of Iran's nuclear activities and says Tehran is cooperating with nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). READ MORE

It stressed the need for cooperation to continue but warned against any attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

``The ministers reaffirmed the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities poses a great danger to human beings and the environment,'' said a copy of the draft obtained by Reuters.

``The ministers reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination...,'' it added, calling on Iran's fuel-cycle policies to be respected.

The statement can still be amended when it goes before the ministers' final session, but its language has already been toned down after some objections from U.S. allies Singapore, Jamaica and Chile and it is expected to be passed.

The United States and its Western allies believe Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, though Tehran insists its atomic program is aimed solely at producing energy and has sent Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to lobby NAM.

Asked on Tuesday if Iran was afraid U.S. forces could attack its nuclear facilities, Mottaki told reporters: ``They are not in the position to create a new crisis in the region.''

``They are in a lot of difficulty in Iraq and Afghanistan,'' he added.

NAM accounts for two-thirds of the United Nations and includes all of Washington's most prominent adversaries, including Iran and North Korea -- two nations on President George W. Bush's ``axis of evil.''

Born in 1961 in reaction to Cold War geopolitics, its member states also include Cuba, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

Hosts Malaysia set the tone on Monday, when its prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, made a strong call for NAM to back Iran and accused the West of double-standards, citing inaction over Israel's nuclear advances.

Russia has offered to diffuse the row by handling the most sensitive part of Iran's nuclear-fuel cycle, uranium enrichment. But an Iranian official said on Monday it had no intention to move all of its enrichment work to Russia.

Iran's case has been referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. In response, Tehran has stopped allowing snap U.N. checks of its atomic facilities.