Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 6 News List

NPT conference surmounts snag

AFP , VIENNA

A conference on fixing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended on Friday after overcoming a last-minute snag over Iranian objections to a call for it to stop enriching uranium.

A chairman's summary stated that "serious concern" was expressed at the two-week meeting over Iran's nuclear program and that Tehran was "strongly urged to comply" with all the demands of UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions seeking a halt to enrichment activities.

Tehran was also asked to comply with NPT safeguards against the possible spread of nuclear weapons.

Iran objected strongly to being named in the summary and the closing session was delayed for several hours as Japanese chairman Yukiya Amano held closed-door consultations to avoid a collapse in the proceedings, diplomats said.

The summary was finally demoted to a "working paper," rather than the official rendering of the proceedings, after non-aligned states also objected to it.

But this was a compromise as Iran had wanted the summary banished entirely.

British ambassador John Duncan said the Iranians should have "no illusions that this [conference] was a tremendous blow for them."

For the first time, "they were isolated in an international forum," Duncan said.

Western diplomats said the summary still stood as the record of the conference, the first of several meetings to prepare for a formal review in 2010 of the NPT, the world's basic agreement for the fight against nuclear weapons.

Many complain the 1970 pact is flawed since it allows states to develop technology that has military as well as peaceful uses.

US representative Christopher Ford told reporters it was "gratifying" that the Iranians "have seen fit to back down in the face of a united international community and that's a step that speaks well for the integrity of the NPT."

But Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the demoting of the summary was a victory for Tehran. He said the text was less significant since it was now only a presentation of the chairman's point of view.

The conference had turned into a face-off between Washington, which accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the Islamic Republic, which says it has a peaceful program to generate atomic power.

Iran had held up the beginning of the meeting for the first six days as it objected but finally yielded to an agenda item calling for full compliance with the NPT.

But Iran did win an explanatory note that compliance should be with "all the provisions" of the treaty and Soltanieh said the Americans had received a "strong message" that they had to honor their pledges on disarmament.

This story has been viewed 2619 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top